It is no exaggeration to say that Balmuda The Toaster will change your life — if you're a big fan of toast. Yes, if your default breakfast is toast or bread, then this toaster oven from Japanese firm Balmuda is, well, the best thing since sliced bread. But you can expect to pay over S$500 for a set with local warranty, though you can also import the Korean model for around S$300 to S$400.
- Unit dimensions: 14.1″ (W) × 12.6″ (D) × 8.2″ (H)
- Rated power consumption: 1300W
- Available in black, white, grey, and taupe
- Four toaster modes and one oven mode (170°C, 200°C, 250°C)
What makes Balmuda's toaster different from the regular pop-up version is steam. The toaster comes with a tiny 5cc cup that you fill with water and pour into its water inlet. The water is used to steam the bread before the toaster switches to its two heating elements at the top and bottom to finish the process. The end result: toast that is crispy on the outside, but moist and fluffy inside. On my Korean import set, I believe the four toaster modes are Sandwich Bread (store-bought sliced bread), Cheese Toast (bread with toppings) Artisan Bread (like baguettes), and Pastry (like croissants and danishes). The US model has a Pizza mode instead of Cheese Toast. Finally, the Balmuda has an oven mode (no water required), though it only has three temperature settings.
What seals the deal for me is the Balmuda's amazing restorative powers when it comes to day-old bread. Unless you're a home baker or live next to a bakery, it's impractical to have fresh bread everyday for breakfast. But the Balmuda can make yesterday's bread seem like they were baked today. Croissants, for example, came out flaky outside, but soft and fluffy inside. Pizza slices retained their crispy base while the toppings were hot and sizzling. You can also re-heat frozen bread using the toaster — just give it an extra minute or two. And because it's also an oven — I have baked salmon fillets — you can use it to do small batches of cookies, warm up leftovers, or roast single portions of meat.
The Balmuda's vintage-looking design would not be out of place in a Studio Ghibli movie. There's an ineffable charm to its old-fashioned dials and the soft tick-tick-tick of its timer. Besides, watching your bread toast in the Balmuda never gets old. First, you'll see the steam fogging up the window. Then as the heating elements kick in, there's a comforting orange glow. It's a lovely, analog moment in our digital world. A great start for the day.
While the Balmuda The Toaster produces much better results than the dry cardboard-like toast from a cheap toaster, is it worth the premium price that is at least 10 times that of a typical toaster? Well, it's fair to say it's not going to make a 10x difference. But how do you put a price to that almost magical experience from using the Balmuda? You can find the Korean import version (typically with a 7-day warranty from the seller) from Shopee and Lazada or the local version here. Alternatively, check out our take on the more affordable Zojirushi toaster oven here.
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