Friday, May 6, 2011

More My Style Than My Mother's, Black & Decker's CTO6120B Toaster Oven Is Average.

The Good: Cooks evenly and well, Generally energy efficient, Color/Style is decent
The Bad: A lot of dials for simple functions, Big footprint, Smaller internal capacity than I like
The Basics: A remarkably average Black & Decker toaster oven, at least it isn't boring white!

My mother, for those who do not read my many reviews, is a bit of a cheapskate. When I write “a bit” I truly mean “an extreme.” She is so against turning on her oven, for example, that outside of her Thanksgiving turkey, she does not use her oven, she cooks everything in her Toast-R-Oven. In fact, she recently burned out her Black & Decker Toaster CT07000 Oven and was compelled to go in search of a new one. Given that I was around, I steered her away from the ugly white Black & Decker CTO6120 she was initially looking at and at the more stylish CTO6120B (for black). She had settled on the CTO6120 because of its inexpensive price and the boast that it could cook an entire small pizza within it. I soon heard her swearing because her usual casserole dishes would not fit into this smaller toaster oven (with convection cooking!) and she pouted around the house for days when she realized only her small $.98 pizzas would actually fit within it.

Still, the Black & Decker CTO6120B is a very average toaster oven and after three months of use at our house, it works well enough for the average toaster oven consumer. However, as my mother cooks virtually everything in hers, this is not an ideal replacement for an oven. This is exactly what it claims to be, a toaster oven with convection cooking, not a countertop oven designed to replace all of the functions of a regular oven. Even so, it is good, but not great.

The Black & Decker CTO6120B model is rather new to the market and it seems to be capitalizing on a new trend away from buttons and in favor of dials on the face of the oven. It seems durable, though our prior Black & Decker was virtually indestructible for over a decade. This, honestly, seems a little flimsier than that, but it has held up for the three months of daily use we’ve had it for so far.

The Black & Decker CTO6120B Toaster Oven is a toaster oven with convection cooking. What that means is that it is primarily designed for toasting bread and baking small dishes. Convection cooking heats food quicker, so things like frozen pizzas cook a little quicker in this than they do in a standard toaster oven. This unit is 13 3/8" wide by 8 5/8" tall by 13 1/8" deep and because of the heating elements inside has an internal, usable space of 11" by 10" by 4 3/4". This is sadly one of the smaller internal spaces for a toaster oven we’ve yet encountered and it is not quite big enough to house the 12” pizza it claims on the box to. It is, however, just big enough to cook a small casserole, a small tray (of about six) muffins or two whole bagels. This is a decent alternative on small cooking projects from a standard oven as the CTO6120B is generally more energy efficient than older models. Because of the convection cooking, it uses the 1500 watts is pulls when baking at 450 more efficiently than the old, standard toaster ovens which were not convection cookers. However, it is not so efficient that it does not heat up the outside of the toaster oven. As a result, those who use this will want to keep the two-foot cord away from the unit as best as possible. Otherwise, one suspects this grounded cord could melt.

The CTO6120B is generally stylish as it is a pretty standard toaster oven in black and gray plastic with a ceramic glass door. And, after a fashion, it is easy to use. This was, in fact, the first toaster oven my mother actually had to read the manual for in order to figure out how it worked. For my part, it took me about three minutes of looking at the three dials before I got the hang of the device. When the CTO6120B is activated, there is a blue light at the top that is activated and the toaster oven glows from the heating elements inside.

Loading the toaster oven is quite simple. This is essentially a plastic and metal breadbox-shaped toaster oven with a large ceramic glass door in the front. The top of the door in adorned with a plastic handle (it does not get hot no matter how long the unit is running in my experience) and opening the unit is as simple as pulling the handle down, which rotates the front door open. Inside the CTO6120B is a wire rack shelf which will support a couple pounds of food; the groove in which this rack sits is a bit more shallow than earlier models and with minimal buckling, I suspect the. After the dish or bread products one wants to toast, one needs only to set the controls and the item cooks right up.

As for the controls, here is where the unit is a bit annoying. There are three different dials: Function, Temperature and Time. Remember the days when you could put bread in a toaster or toaster oven, press a button and it would start toasting? Not so with the CTO6120B. Instead, one has to set both the function and temperature dials to “toast,” then twist the timer function past 20 minutes, then drag it back to an appropriate amount of time for toasting (I’ve found a bagel gets done in two minutes, three if it was initially frozen). Otherwise, the three dials have the be set for baking or broiling, the specific temperature (up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit) and then a time (up to an hour). When I’m tired, I want something a bit more intuitive.

In addition to being a bit more complicated on the controls than I would like, the CTO6120B has the usual gripes on cleaning from me. Like many toaster ovens, the CTO6120B has a lower tray which may be pulled out to eliminate crumbs from the bottom of the unit and this works quite well for that. However, spills to the lower heating element and anything greasy becomes near impossible to clean off the inside of the CTO6120B. Chicken grease, for example, caramelizes on the heating element and even after a week, it has not cooked off. I dared not use something physical - like a putty knife or chisel - for fear of breaking the heating element. Getting one's hand in to wash out the rest of the unit - make sure it is unplugged and do NOT immerse this in water! - is not simple, but not the worst thing in the world, given how small the CTO6120B is. However, cleaning the lower heating element is virtually impossible and from time to time, anything that hits it and makes it through the guard - which is also irksome to try to clean - will burn itself off. This is fine, so long as one can deal with a smoky smell when it happens.

The Black & Decker CTO6120B is a very average toaster oven and I ultimately recommended it, narrowly, because it will be more than adequate for most consumers, provided they are not looking to replace larger kitchen appliances with it.

For other kitchen appliances, please check out my reviews of:
Samsung Stainless Steel Microwave Oven
Frigidaire FEF336EC Stainless Steel Electric Range
Hamilton Beach 43424 FlavorPlus Coffee Maker


For other kitchen appliance reviews, please be sure to visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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