Baking on the cooktop – no oven needed?

June 11th, 2015

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Over the years we’ve learned of a staggering array of strange and unusual cooking techniques, ranging from sausages in the kettle to fish in the dishwasher.

Some of these techniques are born out of necessity, while others are the result of experimentation worthy of a mad scientist.

Today’s we’re looking at another unusual cooking method – can you use your cooktop for baking?

Why not just use the oven?

Many Aussie kitchens include an oven or stove, even if it’s just a rusty old hotbox wedged into the corner. So why wouldn’t you just bake with that?

Well, not every home has that option:

  • Some kitchens, such as those in granny flats, are REALLY small, and can only accommodate a hotplate for cooking.
  • Sometimes, the home’s oven may be old and broken, or can’t provide an even heat for reliable baking.
  • Some ovens are too small to fit a decent-sized biscuit tray or a respectable cake tin inside.

So how DO you bake on a cooktop?

As we all know, cooktops and stoves provide simple heat to a flat surface, making them ideal for boiling a pot of water for pasta, frying up some eggs and bacon, or blasting a wok for a traditional stir-fry. They’re not intended for baking.

But that doesn’t mean they can’t do it!

baking-without-ovensource: Fauzia’s Kitchen Fun

What you’ll need is a BIG piece of cookware.  A super-sized pot, with a tight-fitting lid, large enough to fit smaller pieces of cookware inside.

Stick one of these on the cooktop and place your baking tin inside. The heat from your cooktop will warm up the air inside the pot, baking the contents.

Of course, if too much heat gets delivered to the base of your pot, this elaborate setup will basically provide the same kind of results as just using a frying pan, with a crispy or burned base and an uncooked top. For more even heating, you’ll want to add some kind of spacer in between the base of the pot and your baking tin or tray, so the hot air can circulate all around your baking tin.

ovenless_cake_004source: wowyummy

A wire rack should work well, but we’ve also found online examples of people using stones, pieces of ceramic tile, or even sand to keep the baking tin away from the hot base. Just make sure that whatever you use is heatproof, and won’t crack or break!

One alternative method (found on is to make cookies (or biscuits, in the ‘strayan parlance) on a stovetop using nothing but a frying pan with a lid. Stick your biscuit batter on the surface of your frying pan, and cover with the lid. This will seal in the heat, meaning that your biscuits will get a crispy base and still be cooked properly on top. Hey, it works for pancakes…

Can you bake with an induction cooktop?

For the uninitiated, induction cooking works by using electromagnetism to directly heat the metal in your cookware, rather than heating up the hotplates themselves with electric heating or gas flames. This method means that induction cooktops can quickly heat up your cookware, and make precise changes to your cooking temperature.

Appliances online australia induction cooking recipesPlus, you can touch their surface during cooking, as they only heat metal!

But of course, induction cooktops will only work with ferromagnetic cookware, such as cast iron, stainless steel, or any other material that a magnet will stick to. So if you do plan to experiment with using an induction cooktop to bake a cake, make sure that your baking pot is induction-compatible first.

Also, as induction cooking only warms the base of a pot and doesn’t affect the sides (unlike electric or gas burners, which can heat up the air AROUND a pot and warm up the sides), you should be extra-careful that the base of your baking doesn’t end up overcooked.

The risks

Whatever method you use, you’ll probably need to experiment a bit to get the best results, as most baking recipes are written with ovens in mind, and it’s not easy to set and maintain an even temperature on many cooktops.

We’ve heard reports of stovetop-baked cakes with burned bases and soggy tops, or ending up steamed rather than baked. Remember to make sure that your cookware is completely moisture-free before using it for baking.

And it goes without saying to BE CAREFUL – your cookware WILL get hot!

Other no-oven baking alternatives

If you don’t have access to an oven, but aren’t yet ready to experiment with your cooktop, there are a few more baking alternatives available in the form of small appliances:

An obvious choice is a bread maker. These handy little appliances are purpose-made for baking, and can often make cakes as well as bread, and even toppings such as jam!

Panasonic Rice Cooker SR-DE183WSTPanasonic Rice Cooker SR-DE183WST

Some rice cookers also include a cake setting, allowing you to conveniently bake at home. Certain pressure cookers, slow cookers and multi cookers can also be used for  baking.

bbq cake blueberry clafouti source: pattycake

Some people have even tried baking on a barbeque! It’s not easy, but it is possible! Just make sure that your grill includes a closing lid to lock in the heat and recreate that oven effect.

Have you baked on a cooktop before? How did it go? Do you have any tips to share with the rest of the class?

Mark joined Appliances Online in November 2011 and has since learned more than he ever expected to know about appliances. He enjoys looking for new and unusual ways for to solve everyday problems using typical household appliances. When he’s not toiling at the desks of Appliances Online and Big Brown Box, he tries to find time to write the next big bestseller and draw satirical cartoons, but is too easily distracted by TV, music and video games. Mark’s favourite appliance is the Dyson Groom Tool, as he loves the concept of vacuuming your dog. Google+

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