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I'm finding this is a really good toasted sandwich maker compared to my previous generic big-box-store-bought unit. The bread is very well toasted and hasn't burnt yet even when the tomato and cheese inside is really well cooked. I put this down to a good thermostat set to an optimum temperature and well designed plates and elements. The long handle gives you a lot of control when slowly closing the top and it lets you keep your hands well away from the venting steam around the plates.
There are no controls on this unit just two lights on the top. The red light indicates that it is heating. A green light indicates that it's hot enough to use. You control it by plugging it in and turning it on at the wall. I find this simplicity is as it should be for this sort of appliance and it hasn't revealed itself as a limitation yet, but I also haven't tried to cook anything other than bread in it, and I'm yet to leave anything in there for far too long.
A couple of pointers that aren't in the succinct instructions that come with the machine. If you aren't familiar with this quintessentially aussie appliance this might help you get more out of it--or if your experience is with a different model some of these might be useful...
- A dab of Japanese mayonnaise on shredded cheese straight from the freezer makes the sandwich super melty inside. Tomato cooks through completely and the sandwiches will be piping hot on the inside and golden on the outer. - You can sprinkle cheese on the outside of the butter bread before lowering the top plate onto the sandwich. This makes a nice toasty cheese crust for sandwich. Surprisingly it doesn't burn. - Invest in some wooden tongs at the same time as you buy this so there's no risk of you scratching the non-stick hot plates when you are lifting the sandwiches out - After use, unplug the toaster, wet some paper or cotton kitchen towel, and then, using the tongs, give the cooking surfaces a quick wipe down to remove any fat or crumbs or sticky spots. This makes cleaning very quick and easy. - If you're unfortunate enough to melt the bread bag to the outside of the unit as I did three days ago, don't worry. Just take the bag away from the toaster. Unplug the unit immediately and wait for it to cool down completely. You can then use your finger nail to pick off the the plastic remnants. They should flake off the cold stainless steel quite easily -- that is if you haven't rubbed it in while it was hot. - Note that the oversize plates require you procure large bread. Some reviews seem to indicate this is an insurmountable issue. It may be impossible to solve in some parts of the world, but not at least in urban regions of Australia. Just be prepared. Take one of the recipe cards in the box with you (which are the same size as the plates), or measure the length against something you always carry, like the screen size of your mobile phone as a reference when buying your bread. - Alternatively buy the commercial square bread with the largest cross-section that your store stocks. Wonderwhite and its wholemeal variant fit the machine, so does Aldi's equivalent -- you can recognise it as the one in the purple cloned-wonder packaging -- weirdly they made it just a bit smaller than the original but it's fine. - If you can't get a large square loaf at a supermarket, then your alternative is to cut suitable sized triangles from a loaf bought at a bread shop--or work something out with the baker. This opens up possibilities for other loaves such as sourdough and fruit breads--but I guess you'll need to watch out for large holes in the dough and the eventuality that a loaf with any sugar in the dough may brown unpredictably. - I've learned of a theory that margarine will spoil the heating surface over time, whereas butter doesn't. I haven't tried anything other than regular and clarified butter, but I'd consider coconut oil or another high smoke point fat as an alternative. - The recipe cards suggest some puff pastry variations. I haven't tried it so I can't vouch for it, but I used some frozen parathas instead for lunch today and they were fine--just greasy as and delicious. I cut them to a slightly larger square (parathas are really just a sloppy pastry when they thaw so they sag into the wells) and I filled them with a sautéed leek, mushroom and herb mixture topped with provolone. Instead of buttering the outside of the bread as you do for regular bread, I used a silicone brush to apply butter to the cooking surfaces. I just have to decide what use the paratha offcuts are.
I have a few more experiments in mind. The even temperature that this thing holds inspires confidence for new possibilities.