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I’m not afraid to admit that I’m absolutely addicted to toasted sandwiches and a toasted sandwich maker is something that we could never live without. We have one of those fancy looking Panini machines that has the ability to make nice toasted sandwiches, but they never live up to the standards of the good, old toasties made in the standard type of toasted sandwich machines. For this reason, we purchased a standard type of toasting machine in Asda for a rather reasonable £10. There were two types available at the time, a standard white one at a reasonable price of roughly £5 and a Silver / black version priced at £10… As our kitchen appliances are all stainless steel it was a no brainer that we were going to pay the extra for the black and silver version.
*** About the Asda toasted sandwich maker ***
This is a normal type of toasted sandwich machine that makes toasties in triangular shapes. It is mainly made of plastic with a touch of polished stainless steel on top for effect. It has the ability to cook two separated toasties at the same time with its two toasting compartments coated with some sort of non-stick to allow easy cleaning and it has lights on top to tell the status of the machine, showing whether it is ready to cook or not. It has a power consumption of 700 watts making it rather economical with quick warm ups.
*** Using the machine ***
The machine is very easy to use and I’ve never had any bother with the setup of the machine in general. Basically you plug the machine into a socket and switch it on without anything inside to start the warming up process, the green light illuminates at switch on and it soon changes to red once the unit is up to full temperature – this takes roughly a minute or so, which is very reasonable in my eyes! Once the red light illuminates - its toastie time and that little light always puts a smile on my face due to my pure love of toasted sandwiches.
I have a bad habit of putting the sandwich together inside the machine as I can never be bothered to dirty a plate beforehand. I put the first bit of bread on the hot plate and I add my ingredients from there, I do sometimes make a slight mess during this process but it’s very safe with this machine as the top opens up very far and there is plenty of room for me to use my hands in the area. Once the toastie is complete I simply have to close the lid and use the little plastic catch to fasten it, this can sometimes be a struggle as I like to cram as much as I can inside my toasted sandwiches and shutting the unit is not very easy with a fully wedged sandwich, sometimes I’m actually tempted to sit on the machine but I’d probably end up with a burnt bottom!
This machine seems to heat up perfectly to create perfectly formed toasted sandwiches, sometimes I find that these toasties can get too hot during use – usually resulting in a burnt toastie if I forget to open the lid in time. This toasted sandwich maker does not have a variable heat setting but it certainly is set right as I have never managed to actually burn a sandwich and I have had a 100% success rate so far, which when compared to the last toasted sandwich machine we had – I’d say that’s a good percentage. My toasties usually take about three to four minutes to toast perfectly to my liking but I can always leave them a little longer if need be without any worries. Once they are ready, the lid is simply lifted and the toasted creation can be easily lifted out from the machine – Unless there’s a spillage of which I shall discuss later on…
*** Quality of the sandwich and types of bread ***
The quality of the sandwich is usually pretty good and I must say that I’ve never had a bad sandwich from this machine. Obviously the sandwich quality depends on the ingredients that are used to create them and this is where ‘Nick’s magic toastie advice’ comes into play. Unfortunately the cooking compartments inside this machine are rather small and only a certain type of bread seems to give excellent results – that being the ‘Kingsmill Toastie white loaf’. This bread is obviously made for toasting but it’s more square in shape than most other brands and it fits inside this machine with ease, it also browns nicely and it’s soft inside with a crispy outside, just the way I like it. I find that strong or medium cheddar cheese is best suited to toasted sandwiches as the strong flavour makes the experience an absolute delight but this is obviously my own personal preference.
*** Any problems? ***
For the reasonable price that I paid for this machine, I would be harsh to highlight some of its issues however, it must be done! The sandwich maker is not of the best of quality but it’s perfectly useable and it will last many years if it is looked after correctly, here are a few problems that I have picked up on from a year of use-
- Small toasting compartments – The compartments are rather small and a normal loaf of bread will not fit inside perfectly, resulting in the ends of a sandwich not being toasted. This is a slight pain as it cuts about an inch off the overall size of the sandwich, which I know doesn’t sound much but when you love toasted sandwiches as much as me, this is seen as a mammoth amount in my eyes. Unfortunately I have had a few incidents with this very machine and it usually results in a large amount of cheese escaping from the side of the machine and wrecking certain furniture that it’s sitting on. This spillage is usually my fault as I slightly overfill the sandwiches and I don’t always put the cheese towards the centre of the bread, this however wrecks the sandwich as the cheese does not distribute evenly and it’s hard to enjoy a sandwich without cheese oozing from the edges (Well it is for me anyway)
- Hard to close – The lid is very hard to close at times, mainly when two sandwiches are inside at the same time and there is not much of a handle to get any leverage to pull it down. The unit has a slight habit to tip forward during my epic battles to close the lid and this sometimes results in me losing one of my perfectly crafted sandwiches.
- Weak catch – this is the most important part of the machine as it basically holds the lid down to allow the magic toasting action to work. The catch is simply a piece of plastic that is pressed onto a small metal bar, with a hard enough push this catch pops off the machine and it takes a good minute or so to fit it back on. This is not a major problem but the catch on our machine is now showing signs of wear and one day, I know it’s going to snap off sometime soon.
- The unit does not have the cool wall technology so the outside of the machine does get very hot, I have burnt myself a few times already! The unit also gives of a smell of burning plastic during use but nothing has melted or fallen off yet so I doubt that it's a mjor problem. The unit is generally rather safe but this is definitely not for use by children.
Apart from these bearable issues there is not much wrong with this little sandwich toaster and I consider it to be very good value for money. The lead is slightly short which sometimes causes me problems while making my sandwiches but this is usually the case with most kitchen appliances as they are not designed to be moved around too often.
*** Cleaning and maintenance ***
Cleaning this machine is an absolute breeze due to the non-stick coating in the cooking chamber. The non-stick coating works fantastically and I have had some terrible cheese related accidents in mine with the minimal amount of damage experienced inside the machine. Cheese simply lifts out regardless of how burnt on it actually is, I usually give mine a wipe with a dry towel to dislodge any dry bits and I follow with a cloth and a hint of fairy liquid in some water. This has been more than enough to clean the entire machine in our time of owning and we have never had any nasty surprises in the cleaning department. I have had a few incidents involving cheese running down the outside of the machine due to me overfilling my sandwiches but luckily the outside of the machine seems to be easy to clean without too many cracks to get clogged with cheesy messes.
*** General opinion ***
I think that this sandwich toaster is an absolute bargain, even if it does only last a short while. We have used this machine almost daily for roughly a year and it is still in rather good condition without many signs of part failure or design issues (apart from the catch). It toasts sandwiches very nicely and it never fails to impress me with its delightful produce!
I highly recommend this toasted sandwich maker and I’m happy to give her a whole four stars!
I would think cutting an inch off each side of the bread would be quite an issue no matter how reasonable a price the toaster is. Haven't owned a sandwich toaster for years but you've explained the pros and cons very well for this partcular one.