Toasters and Ovens Product Guide
Toasters, Toaster/Ovens, and Ovens are, perhaps, the most standard kitchen appliance around. Nearly every household has one. Since humans discovered and captured the idea of fire, it was inevitable that baking, broiling and toasting would become important to our survival - through health, taste, and diet.
Though it is believed that meat was an integral part of our diet, current studies of primitive cultures and ancient documents reveal that toasting and baking bread have remained an essential part of our lives. There's definitely something behind the saying 'Earning Bread'. Now we can really enjoy it too.
The mixture of flour and water to make bread has been indicated in ancient texts from over 10,000 years ago. This was flat bread. The Egyptians developed a process of fermentation around 5,000 years ago that brought about leavened bread, the type of bread that we currently use to make sandwiches. Bread was a form of currency. It is believed that the workers who toiled on constructing the Pyramids were paid with bread. The average American eats around 200 pounds of bread (or bread products) each year, making it a significant part of our diet.
The idea of toasting bread goes back thousands of years. It was a method used to prolong the life of bread. Toast comes from the Latin word tostum, which means to scorch or burn. Placing bread on sun-scorched rocks was a common method of toasting. The Romans, who spread the concept around their empire, made the practice popular. Today, we toast bread because it's quick and delicious.
Though the first electric toaster was invented around 1912, the automatic pop-up toaster wasn't invented until 1919 and didn't gain popularity until the 1930's. By the 1940's nearly every kitchen, in the United States, had an electric toaster. Most models were able to accommodate two slices of commercially sliced bread. The toaster-oven has recently gained popularity. There are also larger ovens that can be used to actually bake bread, some can even make bread from scratch.
Virtually all toasters are pop-up. You insert bread on top, pull a handle down that brings the bread safely to the heating mechanism. Both sides of the bread are toasted simultaneously. Moments later, the bread pops up - toasty brown - ready to be eaten. There's always some control that allows adjustment for the 'shade' of toast you enjoy most. Most current toasters can accept wider breads. This means that you can easily toast bagels, muffins, scones, or thickly sliced breads. Although pop-up toasters are compact, quick, and easy, you can only toast dry bread. Applying butter or other spread, prior to toasting, can clog the mechanism and interrupt its functioning.
Toaster - Ovens
Larger than pop-up toasters, Toaster-Ovens are sort of a hybrid, combining toaster features in a small oven. Some toaster-ovens toast bread only one side at a time. A few larger ones can toast bread on both sides simultaneously. There's usually a control for toast shades, as well as a thermostat control for heating other foods. Because of the larger size, there's much greater flexibility with breads and muffins. You can toast a whole bagel or roll, no slicing required. You can also toast bread (or muffins) with butter, cheese, and jams. You can even prepare Focaccia (an Italian bread) by adding sun-dried tomatoes, olive oil, and herbs. You can also bake or broil burgers, poultry parts, fish fillets, and much more.
Though they may be smaller than the oven that's part of your stove, electric ovens rest on your countertop and can do anything that your main oven does. These are usually larger than toaster-ovens and are, generally, not used for making toast because the larger size means that the heat elements are farther away. This means that toast would take longer to prepare than in a toaster or toaster-oven. The larger size of these ovens, however, can be useful for roasting poultry and meats. You can also use it to bake breads and cakes. Essentially, there are one or two shelves. You'll find heating elements above and below for consistent baking or broiling modes. Some models include a rotisserie attachment for roasting chickens or kabobs. Another feature, found on a few models, is convection heating. This means that an internal fan has been added. It delicately blows the heat around inside the cooking chamber for improved heating consistency. Virtually all models have a temperature control, mode selector, and a cooking timer.
These became available around the 1980's. All you do is place ingredients to make bread inside the chamber. The machine automatically prepares the dough and bakes a fresh loaf of bread. It's a fast, easy way to enjoy delicious, fresh-baked breads. Is anybody interested in some toast?
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