Food & Drinks

My Side-Loading Toaster Is Better Than a Toaster Oven

Years ago, while visiting a friend at his sublet apartment in Paris, I encountered the most superbly French appliance: a toaster with openings so long you could brown a third of a baguette, sliced down the middle, for a perfect Parisian breakfast. Naturally we did this nearly every morning.

More recently, after this past year of cooking a lot and not doing much else, I decided it was time to invest in some good, sturdy appliances. When it came to a toaster, I knew I wanted something larger than the basic pullman-loaf-sized affair — I wanted something that would encourage that simple French breakfast of gently melted butter and tart strawberry jam. But real baguette toasters are hard to find state-side, as it turns out. So I took a chance on a model I thought would provide a similar experience: the BergHOFF Seren Side Loading Toaster. The baguette toaster of my Parisian stay had a standard top-down slot, just double the length of those on the toasters I was used to. This variety offers the same functionality, but with a long tray that slides out from the heating-element chamber.

Although it’s not what lured me in at first, it turns out the side-loading tray is where the real potential of this toaster lies. Pressing a button opens the tray’s clamp so you can slide in literally anything that will fit — and believe me, I’ve been testing its limits. It’s particularly useful when dealing with really plump baked goods, from extra-thick hand-rolled bagels to packed empanadas. Last week for lunch, I pulled out a chunk of leek focaccia from the freezer that was roughly the size of a day planner. Normally, I’d have to reheat something this thick in the oven, since it wouldn’t fit in a narrow toaster slot. But after two cycles in the long toaster, it was deliciously warmed through without getting burnt outside.

In my side-loading toaster, I’ve cooked frozen fish sticks and reheated leftover kimchi-jeon. When some homemade hawawshi got soggy in the fridge, an extra-long cook crisped them right up again. I’ve even heard rumors the toaster can cook a grilled cheese sandwich to perfection; although as a devout American cheese fan worried about it melting everywhere, I have yet to try this. I have, however, made good use of the toaster’s pastry-reheating abilities. In the past, I would wrap leftover pastries in a damp paper towel and attempt to microwave them just so: too much, they get hard at the edges, but too little and they’re still cold inside. While many baked goods can be refreshed with a little time in the oven, I can’t imagine a strategy I’m less likely to use during summer heat. And what am I supposed to do, eat a kolache cold when it could be hot and melty?

A long toaster is certainly more of a countertop space commitment than a standard model, but it’s worth the investment over fussier alternatives like toaster ovens, which rarely heat thicker foods all the way through. The completely removable tray also acts as a crumb collector, making it very easy to dump any leftover bits into a nearby sink. Given how much I use it, this toaster has more than justified its presence in my scant New York kitchen.

Jenna Stoeber is a writer, streamer, and academic.

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