Kitchn Love Letters

I Tried This Splurgy, Sleek Toaster Oven and It’s Totally Worth the Hype

published Dec 23, 2022
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BALMUDA The Toaster

Once you learn to rely on a household essentials, there’s just no going back. Case in point: Never again will I go back to cleaning my sticky, crumb-covered kitchen floors with a spray mop after getting my hands on this easy-to-use wet-dry vac. Or, thanks to my lovely (and powerful) blender, I’ll never again stick ice cubes in a Ziploc and dangerously smash them to pieces with the back of my chef’s knife. Ever. And then there are some tools and appliances that I’ve relied on since childhood. I’m talking about the slow cooker, the moka pot, and the whistling kettle. You know, the trusty essentials that scream, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

So, you can’t blame me for thinking a toaster is a toaster is a toaster. I mean, sure, there are two-slice toasters, toaster ovens — heck, they’re even air fryer toasters these days. But, amid all the variations on the more than 100-year-old old classic, the basic principle remains the same: Insert bread (or bagel, or pizza, or any other starchy, delicious slice), apply heat, receive toast. Seems simple enough to me, and it’s pretty much the best possible toast-making method, right? Wrong. With just a single spin around the bread block with my brand new BALMUDA toaster, I realized that the appliance has been missing one crucial piece of the bread-browning process: steam.

Allow me to explain. At the start of every toast, I follow the innovative appliance brand’s no-brainer instructions and add a bit of water (there’s a teeny measuring cup included) into the inlet on top of the machine. I then choose from one of the appliance’s five modes and three different temperature settings depending on what I’ve stuck in there. Thanks to a retro viewing window in the front, you can also see the toaster in action. Within seconds, the inside becomes as full of steam as a sauna, which, as the minutes pass, dissipates, revealing a golden, crusty piece of toast, pastry, or quiche.

The theory behind this process is that by adding moisture at the beginning of the toast, you mimic the original baking. In other words, because dough is wet when it goes into the oven, as it heats, liquid evaporates and generates a moist, fluffy, or flaky interior (contingent upon the recipe) and a crusty exterior. In fact, many professional bread ovens have a steam cycle at the beginning of their bake (pro tip: if you’ve trying your hand at bread-baking in your home kitchen, pop a sheet tray with some ice cubes below your bake and you can expect the same golden-crust perfection). By adding steam into the toasting process, BALMUDA has recreated the very bake itself.

So, I put the pretty thing to the test with some seriously stale bread (I’m talking rock hard ciabatta). I was astounded: The interior returned to its springy glory and the crust had the perfectly thin layer of tearable crunch. Bread, check! How about pastries? As it turns out, croissants don’t last too long around my house, so I stuck one in my car for research’s sake. Two days later I retrieved it, it was dry, shrunken, and had practically zero-scent. A few minutes in the BALMUDA, though, and bang! That buttery, sweet smell wafted from the machine; the glossy layers of laminated excellence were restored.

Oh, and to get to the oven part: Yes, this appliance is a toasting aficionado like I’ve never seen before, but it also takes on the task of a mini oven as well. For reheating leftovers, making a batch of mini muffins, or a single chocolate chip cookie (a practice I highly recommend), the BALMUDA rivals my actual oven when it comes to baking and cooking as well.

And, if all that wasn’t enough, I’d splurge on this toaster oven for looks alone. It exists somewhere in a world where “The Jetsons” turned Scandi, and I’m here for it. Its knobs are as simple to use as they are beautiful, and it fits surprisingly well on my crowded kitchen counters. I love its mod, elegant color options (mine’s Taupe) and unique rounded edges. Need I say more? Oh — right now you can score it on sale at Williams Sonoma. Just add it to cart, receive the discount, and thank me later. This thing is a serious game changer!

Buy: BALMUDAThe Toaster, $269.95 (normally $299.95)