Over the last month, I have gotten a lot of hits on the topic of the electric skillet. One question that has come up more than once, is can you bake in an electric skillet? Can I turn out a batch of chocolate chips cookies in such a device? In order to answer the question we first need to know what it means to be bake. Baking is exactly the same process as roasting. People typically use the word baking when creating sweet items like cookies, brownies, and cakes. People typically use roasting when cooking big hunks of meat, like beef, chicken, or turkey. Although no one seems to say I roasted a ham. Do you bake or roast your potatoes?
The process of baking or roasting involves cooking something with dry heat. If you are using liquid than you are braising or stewing. Baking/roasting involves two processes of cooking: radiation and convection. In an electric skillet your food is touching the source of heat, the bottom of the skillet, so this is not radiate heat, this is cooking via conduction. Convection involves cooking through the movement of air around the food. Air cannot move around the bottom of the food in an electric skillet, so convection isn't taking place. So technically speaking it is not possible to bake in an electric skillet.
If you tried to make cookies in an electric skillet, they would not cook evenly. The bottom would easily burn, and if you are using one without a non-stick surface, then you would have to use oil in order for them not to stick and then you would be frying your cookies. The closest you would come to making cookies, is making pancakes. Pancakes are cooked via conduction and are flipped when one side is cooked.
In closing, keep your baking in a oven. Check out my electric skillet page for recipes that will work in an electric skillet.
If you were to introduce a wire rack to your stainless steel skillet that you set a baking sheet or dish on, you very well could bake in your electric skillet!
When I went without an oven for a week I baked quiche, chicken, corn bread, potatoes, carrot cake and a tart in a cheap cast aluminum dutch oven (caldero) on a hot plate with a rack inserted into it to elevate food off bottom of pan. I learned about this in forums for folks who use solar power in cabins and must be miserly with energy consumption.
Yes you can bake in skillet so long as it is (1) stainless steel (Teflon would be destroyed if heated dry!) and (2) you add rack to elevate food off skillet surface.
For the record, everyone who spoke of using this method for off grid baking absolutely swore by their old US-made Farberware e-skillets. While these are no longer made (aforeign manufactured version is now sold) there are still a ton of them available on eBay and I see them often at thrift shops. Occasionally still in original packaging.
I recently bought a large George Foreman Grill. It has a large 14" base and is round with a air tight lid. You can bake in it. An oven gives you heat from the bottom as well, same principal. So far I have baked biscuits in it and they do well, they brown on the bottom only. But if you want to brown them on both sides, simply flip them when they get near the end of baking. The trick is to not put them directly on the heated surface, put them in another pan. Turn the grill on and cover it airtight. It will bake just like an oven does. I am getting ready to try apple fritters in the same way with croissant dough.
I am a Brand Ambassador for a deli meat and cheese company and I have made crescent rolls out of a can in mine. I just flipped it half way through. I make all kinds of dishes in my electric skillet. I wish I could find the exact style as I have for demos. It is made my Hamilton Beech and it is copper. Love it.