Tokyo-based appliance company Balmuda likens itself to gadget-producing tech giants like Apple or Google rather than kitchen brands like Cuisinart or Smeg. Their appliances, which range in price and function, maintain a distinct design style that blends minimalism with future-forward features and vintage touches. Their most beloved release, the impressive Steam Toaster, has been exclusive to the Japan market, where it remains a favorite nearly five years after its debut. Starting yesterday, the toaster is now available stateside.
The toaster’s US debut (at $329) is significant for a number of reasons. First, the technology within Balmuda’s clever device remains un-replicated in the American market. Many competitor iterations leave bread and bagels wet, and noticeably lackluster. Balmuda’s revitalizes bread, rendering it akin to freshly baked rather than re-heated, with crusts crackly and evenly browned and the interior chewy and moist. Even if the bread is stale to begin, the toaster restores it.
One teaspoon of water fuels the device’s precise steam technology. Pouring it (using the included miniature mug) into the toaster allows for dispersion throughout, thus heating the interior more rapidly than air would. An enveloping cloud of steam—which is carefully monitored by the machine to ensure the temperature gradually rises from 140 degrees (when the crumb softens) to 428 degrees Fahrenheit (when the crust browns)—toasts the exterior while preserving its inner moisture and flavor.
Atop the appliance, helpful instructions map out the required cook time for various dishes. Categorized under five modes—sandwich bread, artisan bread, pizza, pastry, and oven—specific times are allotted to special iterations like sourdough and rye bread or toast with meltable toppings. Pizza mode, we learned through testing, toasts a personal-sized pie in five minutes. The Balmuda doesn’t aim to replace your standalone oven, though. It does, however, encourage users not to rely on wire toasters, which we—after using the Steam Toaster—realize could never deliver at this level.
The Balmuda Steam Toaster is available now in black or white in the brand’s online store or on Amazon and Williams-Sonoma later this year.
Images courtesy of Balmuda