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I'm not a big fan of toast. I find it dry and a bit boring - even with jam or other tasty spreads on it. But a toaster is one of those things you should have in your kitchen, and I do love crumpets, muffins and toasties made in toastabags. The Haden 11326 is actually the first toaster I owned; we had had toasters in previous flats but they belonged to the flat, and as there wasn't one in the flat we moved to in London, we decided to buy one. That was over five and a half years ago, and here I am just getting round to reviewing the toaster.
We purchased the Haden 11326 toaster in John Lewis for somewhere in the region of £8-£10, which seemed like quite a bargain. We only wanted a toaster, we didn't want some massive contraption which could toast four slices and probably do a dance to entertain you while it did. It didn't seem necessary to spend any more on a slightly fancier toaster or better known brand - as long as this Haden one toasted stuff, it would do the job.
The Haden 11326 toaster is white, with a silver panel around the controls. Toasting level is controlled by a dial numbered 1-6, and there are buttons for cancel, reheat and defrost functions. The toaster also has a bun warmer, which is simply two pieces of metal which are raised over the toaster by a little button; they are barely noticeable when not in use. There is also a crumb tray under the toaster.
The toaster slots are a reasonable size. They can accommodate fairly thick bread, although if you slice a muffin too thickly on one side, it can get a bit stuck - fortunately you can use the lever to lift the toaster slots out higher so you can retrieve stuck items or smaller things which might not reach the top. The main problem I have with the toaster in terms of size is its depth. Supermarket own brand bread is fine - it will all fit in the toaster and be toasted evenly. More expensive branded bread (Kingsmill in particular) sticks out the top, meaning you have to turn it over halfway through.
As far as toasting goes, the Haden 11326 does the job. It toasts evenly and fairly quickly - you don't have to wait forever for your toast. There is, however, a very fine line between nicely toasted and black, and it seems to lie around the 4 mark on the dial. I like my toast to be light - "warm bread" it has been called, but my partner does prefer darker toast. But when I turn the dial up to do this, the toast ends up burnt - so after a while I started to leave the control turned down a bit lower, and then put the toast on again for a little longer, which seemed to result in less burning incidents than simply going for the higher setting. I do this with crumpets as well, as they require more toasting time than my toast.
The Haden 11326 is surprisingly easy to clean, given that it's white. Also surprisingly, it doesn't get too grubby to start with. The crumb tray should help to collect crumbs, but it had a tendency to pop out the side of its own accord, and therefore wasn't a great deal of use.
However, our Haden toaster came to a sudden end a couple of months ago. I didn't see what happened as I was away at the time, but my partner called me and said "Erm...the toaster just exploded". Whether a fault in the toaster or with the plug socket, we don't know, but after around five and a half years of service it packed in.
I'm not fussy when it comes to toasters, and while there is part of me which would like a nice big shiny one that catches crumbs and does all sorts of clever things, we only really need a basic toaster like the Haden 11326. So although it was far from perfect, it did what we needed it to do - as long as we paid attention to whether it was burning the toast or not.
Short name: Haden 11326