A couple of minor design issues aside, the Swan Fearne 2-Slice Toaster does everything right at a very attractive price
- Very affordable
- Large slots
- Even results
- Recipe booklet
- Sides get hot
- Review Price: £25.99
- Two slots
- Six levels of browning control
- Reheat function
- Defrost function
What is the Swan Fearne 2-Slice Toaster?
The Fearne 2-Slice toaster is part of Swan’s range of home appliances and kitchenware designed in collaboration with TV presenter Fearne Cotton. With a pastel, retro vibe, the toaster looks surprisingly smart for a toaster that’s so cheap. It also doesn’t disappoint on the performance front.
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Swan Fearne 2-Slice toaster – Design and features
The Swan Fearne 2-Slice toaster is available in four pastel shades: Lily, Pale Honey, Peacock and Truffle. I reviewed the Truffle version, which I would describe as an (ever-so-slightly grey) off-white.
The toaster has an attractive, understated design with some retro accents. Encased in metal, it’s oval, with stainless steel on top, and a metallic base, lever and dial. It has a solid build and is unlikely to tip over.
The retro-looking browning control dial with numbers 1 to 6 is on the right of the toasting lever. You can also settle between those numbers, with halfway points marked on the dial and a subtle ticking sound signifying four increments between each half.
This means you can really fine-tune your toast to the level of 3 5/8 if you like. However, in some of my tests monitoring brownness levels and the time it took to reach them, the slight variations in increments didn’t make that much of a difference.
On the left side of the lever, there are three buttons: cancel, reheat and defrost. The cancel button is lit up whenever the toaster is in use, allowing you to locate it easily. The reheat and defrost buttons light up when pressed, showing which function is activated.
On both sides, you’ll find a small logo featuring Cotton’s signature. The presence of this logo, as well as the cursive font used next to the buttons, are my only niggles with the design, as they make the overall impression a bit twee. Still, these are only noticeable when you’re standing very close to the appliance.
At 30cm long, 17.5cm wide and 18.5cm high, the Fearne toaster is a fairly standard size for a two-slice. Its cable is over 80cm long, leaving you with about 65cm from the back of the toaster should you need it. If not, there are hooks at the bottom to wind your cord around. The slots are approximately 3.7cm wide and 15.5cm long, meaning you can toast most standard slices of bread sideways.
While Swan says the maximum thickness of your bread should be 2cm, I managed to toast crumpets that were more towards the 2.5cm mark comfortably. Either way, the mechanism inside the toaster will adjust to the thickness of your bread.
As usual, the crumb tray is at the back of the toaster. But this one is push-to-open – a neat touch.
The Fearne toaster comes with a colourful care and use booklet that also features a small selection of recipes. These are vaguely toaster-related, including ideas for nut butter, dips, soup and breads. The instructions are sufficiently thorough, although they do advise you to buy other appliances from Swan’s Fearne range.
Swan Fearne 2-Slice – What’s it like to use?
I had good overall results with the Fearne toaster. The instruction manual advises that ‘setting 3 is best for most uses’. I found that to be pretty accurate, with best results for toast between settings 3 and 4.
I started with some wholewheat bread at setting 3, which came out nice and browned after two minutes and 35 seconds.
I had the best results when placing the bread sideways. As the Fearne toaster has quite a high lift, the top of your bread will stick out when placed vertically and will not toast properly.
But handily, placing your bread sideways is very easy to do, as this toaster has one of the longest slots I have seen.
Next up, I tried toasting some frozen slices of white bread at setting 4 with the defrost function activated. This took around three minutes and 40 seconds and the result looked a bit on the dark side.
I let the toaster cool down to get a more accurate result before trying again – if your toaster is warm, it can influence the brownness of your toast as well as the time it takes. Frozen white bread with defrost at setting 3.5 also took around three minutes and 40 seconds. However, the result was a bit paler on one side.
I subsequently tried settings 3 3/4 and then 3 5/8, which took a similar amount of time. At setting 3 3/4 the toast still turned out a little too dark – quite similar to setting 4. Meanwhile, 3 5/8 proved good if you like your toast a bit darker than at 3.5.
Setting 3.5 proved great for fresh white bread too, delivering nicely browned toast in just under three minutes.
The slightly larger slices I used perfectly illustrate the need to toast your bread sideways. When toasted vertically, around 2cm from the top of the slice was not toasted and a further 2cm looked quite pale. At the same time, the slice toasted horizontally came out evenly browned throughout.
The reheat function is handy in case you forget about your toast and let it cool. It takes 30 seconds and doesn’t brown your toast much further. While the Fearne toaster’s instruction manual will advise you to use the lowest setting, I didn’t detect any significant difference between reheating my toast at setting 1 or at 3.5.
Finally, I toasted some crumpets at setting 5. They turned out pleasantly crisped in three minutes and 20 seconds.
Because of the toaster’s high lift, it was easy to place and remove crumpets from the toaster. Due to the weight/shape of crumpets, the mechanism may get a little stuck when it’s time for the toaster to pop up. However, all you have to do is manually lift the lever a little and you can easily remove the crumpets without burning your fingers.
One thing to note is that it gets quite hot on the sides even after a single use. With other toasters I’ve tested, I’ve only noticed this level of heat after several consecutive turns. While this toaster doesn’t take long to cool down, it’s worth keeping this in mind for safety reasons.
Why buy the Swan Fearne 2-Slice toaster?
The pastel design and cursive fonts may not be for everyone, but the Fearne toaster is a solid option and produces great results at a very attractive price making this a great budget choice. Our list of the best toasters has more expensive options with more features, but if you’re on a tight budget you needn’t look any further.