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The Russell Hobbs 18046 is a toaster and not just any old toaster but one for making toast. In case anyone doesn't know, the principle of a toaster is that you put bread it there and it heats it on both sides until it is crisp. Your toast is now ready for a spread of your choice. Traditionally this is butter or margarine but different parts of the world have their own customs. Eskimos like to spread mashed bananas and snow on their toast while in parts of South America they will only eat toast if it has been drizzled with coconut milk and kiwi fruit. This toaster is currently available to buy for £24.99. If you don't have £24.99 maybe you could try grilling your toast instead? Please remember to turn it over though.
The toaster is available in different colours but I prefer the black and silver one as depicted in the picture above. I don't know if they do a pink one in case anyone is wondering. They should do. You have a choice of settings that go up to six. I like my toast very well done so the highest one is good, especially if you are in a hurry. Please keep an eye on it though if you choose the highest setting because when bread is heated to a certain level it starts to burn. I think the lead could have been longer here so you will have to have the toaster quite close to a plug. There is a crumb tray underneath you can remove and then it's up to you what you do with the crumbs. You can give them to the birds or make an interesting crumb collage painting if you wish. It's entirely your business what you do with the crumbs.
You will learn over time which are the best settings for different foodstuffs. The only thing apart from toast I've used in this are crumpets and I actually prefer to do them under the grill because they are sometimes difficult to extract. There is a frozen setting for bread that needs to be thawed. If you put bread in the freezer it wil freeze and need to be thawed. Anyone with a background in science will know that. This toaster has served me well since it set up residence in my kitchen but I don't think it is the best toaster you could buy. It does get very hot and could give you more room and scope to put bigger things in there. I've had no mechanical failures with it so far and it has made many slices of toast. I think it's a good toaster but you could do better.
Now I've never really been a big toast eater as I tend to only eat it at weekends so it is not surprising that I have never really bought a toaster before. However, they cost less to run than the grill which I have used in the past to do the odd piece my toast at weekends and toast the odd bagel. Now with energy prices rising I'm looking to save money in the long term so I invested in one. It cost me £23.99 from the co-op and the r.r.p. is £49.99.
The toaster I have is stainless steel with black plastic casing. Whilst this will probably come in all different colours I think the black (or ebony as they call it) will match most kitchens. The controls are simple to use and there is the usual 'cancel' button along with a 'reheat' and a 'frozen bread' setting. There is also the usual 'toast level' control from 1 (hot bread) to 6 (burnt to cinders) and the removable crumb tray which you find on all good (and some bad) toasters. The 'high lift' functionality of the leaver allows you to toast smaller things but I find it still doesn't quite lift it high enough to get crumpets out easily.
Now as myself and the other half eat breakfast at different times even at weekends I only went for a two slice toaster as it is smaller and so takes up less room on the kitchen work top. The slots are a good size and each will hold a regular slice of bread quite easily from thin to the thick sliced. For toast I tend to go for the thick sliced otherwise I prefer medium. The slots will also hold a sliced bagel as well.
The 'toast level' control is easy to use and for me I have found that a setting of 4 is best for wholemeal bread but 3 is best for bagels. This is all down to personal taste and so a bit of trial and error is needed to get it right. The toast is evenly done on both sides so there is none of the burnt on one side and barely browned on the other to cope with. The indicating arrow for this setting is not the clearest I have seen and those with eyesight problems may find this hard to see.
The black plastic casing does stay cool during use but as you would expect the stainless steel top gets very hot. Catching my hand on it once, whilst extracting a crumpet, proved that to be the case. Whilst the flex is a reasonable length I feel that had it been just another 10 cm longer I could leave the toaster in one place rather than having to keep moving it nearer the socket to use then put it away again. I could move it permanently to where I use it but it would be too much in the way when I'm not using it.
The reheat function does do a good job of reheating toast although not quite as hot as it would have been when it first popped up. This is a useful function especially if you have just put the toast on and someone then has the rudeness to call you on the phone or knock on the door. As I never freeze my bread I can't comment on how well the frozen bread function works.
As with many toasters the lever won't click down unless the item is plugged in and switched on at the wall.
There is no safety feature to stop someone trying to get the toast or crumpet out whilst it is still plugged in with metal utensils (but is anyone really daft enough to do that?). Perhaps this is something that manufacturers could try to develop.
My only real complaint except the flex could have been longer is that there is no 'warming rack' that some toasters have to allow you just to warm things like croissants over the toaster.
Short name: Russell Hobbs 18046