Top positive review
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Great Value for a Bagel Lover
on December 29, 2010
After our toaster oven lead to one too many burnt bagels, I decided I wanted to add a regular toaster to our list of small appliances. I had seriously considered buying a substantially more expensive toaster before I came across this little gem. Based on the consistently high reviews I chose the Hamilton Beach Keep Warm Toaster.
The single slot is perfectly sized for the large fresh bagels you get from the grocery store or a chain like Brueggers or Panera. The four buttons along the front are "Bagel," "Frozen Bagel," "Frozen Toast," and "Cancel." When the bagels were fresh, "Bagel" worked like a charm, heating the bagel through and toasting only the face. The "Bagel" and "Frozen Bagel" only heat up the front wires to toast only the one side.
If I could I would deduct half of a star because "Frozen Bagel" might be valuable only for something like the small Lender's bagels you find in the grocery store (though I have personally not tested this hypothesis).
From what I can tell, the "Frozen" settings (both for bagel and toast) generate less heat, but go for a longer cycle. The problem is that even on the highest setting using the "Frozen Bagel" feature, the fresh-then-frozen bagels did not completely defrost in the middle and required a second, albeit shorter, cycle (though, to be fair, it did not overcook the top of the bagel either).
I've found that "Frozen Toast" works perfectly for the frozen bagels using a single cycle set to your desired darkness.
Other things to note:
+ Toasting occurs quickly: even the frozen settings only take a few minutes.
+ Bagel and Frozen Toast features are very useful for Fresh and Fresh-to-Frozen bagels respectively.
- The Frozen Bagel setting requires multiple cycles to toast the larger bakery bagels and as such gets little use compared to the Frozen Toast feature.
= When the toast cycle completes the toaster beeps twice. It sounds very much like a smoke alarm, albeit a bit quieter, and can be a little jarring at first. However, once you are accustomed to the sound itself, the alert is nice to know when the toasting is complete if you've walked away to do something else.
+ The toast remains down inside the toaster when complete to "keep warm."
+ Something I hadn't seen noted in other reviews: when you pull the handle all the way up, the support appears to lock into place so you can easily grab your toast one at a time. Once the weight of the last piece of toast is removed, the handle and support return to the "start" position.