Burnt, patchy, underdone: the quest for a decent slice of toast
A survey by market research company Mintel revealed that toast is the most popular breakfast, with eight in ten of us choosing to start our day with a slice. So why’s it so hard to find the perfect toaster?
Last summer I wrote a conversation asking if dishwashers are the least trusted kitchen appliance. Our poll revealed that you actually think toasters should be least trusted to do their job.
Surely a toaster should do what is says on the box – toast bread?
Browned off by uneven toast
Not always. If you saw the number of pictures of toast I have around my desk, you may think I have an obsession with toast (and you’d probably be right). We have a rogues gallery of some really bad toast – uneven, patchy, burnt, under done and the ‘golfer’s tan’ (more on that later).
What also puzzles me, as I gaze over my sea of toast pictures, is why so many toasters don’t fit bread properly, unless you use square-shaped standard supermarket loaves. If you’re a fan of a large bloomer, or make your own bread, then finding a toaster to fit a slice isn’t so easy (a single long slot is the best option here).
The ‘golfer’s tan’ is a common problem with big slices, which is when the whole slice isn’t toasted, and comes out with an underdone strip.
These are all problems that one Which? member highlighted when he contacted me about his toaster, but he thinks he has the solution:
‘In a shop it is difficult to see how large a slice it will hold. I have to part-toast the lower two thirds, and then rotate the slice 180 degrees and part-toast the top two thirds.
When I finally get tired of this palaver and replace, I will go shopping with a test “slice” which will be a piece of cardboard cut to the size of a large slice, to check that the slot size is large enough before purchase.’
The toaster holy grail
When we test toasters we use a benchmark slice of toast. It’s a particular shade of golden brown, otherwise known as the ‘holy grail’. We measure how much of the slice is toasted and the evenness of this browning, plus we check both sides are the same.
An evenly golden-brown slice of toast is surprising difficult to achieve, and many toasters fall short.
The toasters team constantly scrutinise toaster results, making sure the toasters we award Best Buys to are the ones that perform the best. But after working on toasters for seven years, I do know that toast is a very subjective thing.
So, what do you want from a toaster? Do you prefer even browning, or larger slots so you can fit larger slices of bread in? Does it matter if it’s the same shade on both sides?
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