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Dutchess_III's avatar

What is the difference between baking and roasting?

Asked by Dutchess_III (46020points) November 25th, 2021
17 responses
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Tropical_Willie's avatar

You bake a pie or cake or muffins and roast a ham or rib roast or turkey.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I’ve always baked my turkey in the oven, along with the pies.
My DIL roasted the turkey today. What is the difference?

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

I think baking is using the bottom heating element and roasting is with the top or both elements, In the oven?

ragingloli's avatar

Baking is when you get high from cannabis.
Roasting is when you insult someone in a humorous fashion.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

My oven has a “roasting setting’ where the broiler element and the regular heating element are on at the same time. Roasting browns the skin.

jca2's avatar

I believe the temperature is higher for roasting.

Jeruba's avatar

As I see it, you generally bake something that has ingredients that are going to undergo a chemical process and become something that was not there before. A cake, a loaf of bread.

When you roast something, you aren’t creating something new. You’re applying heat to something that was already there—a turkey, a cut of beef, a pan of vegetables—to change its condition, but not to turn it into something else.

But then we do talk about baking a potato or a squash, so there goes that idea. Oh, well.

jca2's avatar

I googled and apparently the answer is complicated:

flutherother's avatar

I think of baking as slow cooking in an oven with convection heating. Roasting I think of as radiant heat which sears as it cooks.

JLeslie's avatar

Many people around the country roast their turkeys on the bake setting. Many ovens only have bake or broil as an option. Whether the person says they are baking the turkey or roasting is just a matter of common usage in the English language from what I can tell. Maybe chefs who have many options for cooking are more specific in how they refer to it.

I’m not even sure whether I say roast the turkey or bake the turkey. It all sounds right to me. I roast red potatoes in the oven, but really I’m just baking them. I bake baking potatoes.

Maybe the expression roasting the turkey is a leftover from a time that cooking was all done over an open flame.

Talking about open flames, do you roast or toast marshmallow? What about roasting or toasting nuts?

Blackwater_Park's avatar

I have always associated baking with pies and cakes or meat not sealed but open and roasting with meat sealed in some sort of container like a dutch oven.

Love_my_doggie's avatar

Both cooking techniques use dry heat. The differences are the food being prepared and the oven temperature.

Roasting is for meat, potatoes, vegetables, and other foods that already have a solid structure. Roasting cooks the items, at higher temperatures, while also browning and caramelizing to enhance flavors.

Baking takes place at lower heat, for foods that lack structure until they’re cooked. Baking changes batter into cake and dough into bread.

Dutchess_III's avatar

This turned out complicated!

Nomore_lockout's avatar

No clue, my wife does all of that in my house. If try to help in the kitchen I get run off, if I insist, I might draw a stub. lol The road to hell is paved with good intentions. : )

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well the kids bought a roaster and cooked the turkey in that. I couldn’t tell the difference between that and a turkey baked in the oven.

jca2's avatar

Nobody seems to have read the article that I Linked above, so here it is, cut and pasted.

Hmm, you think: is there actually a difference between roasting and baking?

We don’t want to ruin anyone’s dinner, but the answer is, well, complicated.

Both roasting and baking involve cooking by dry heat. Both are often done in ovens but can be accomplished by less sophisticated means too. When you’re holding that skewered tofu pup over the flames of your campfire, roast is the word you’re likely to use, but if you want to put a tin of muffin mix on the grate over your campfire in the morning you’ll probably say you’ve baked (or tried to bake) the inevitably still-doughy masses that result.

Recipes make us think there’s a difference, and practically speaking there often is: when we’re roasting we’re typically using a higher oven temperature than when we’re baking, and we’re frequently aiming for the crispness and caramelization that results. Cooking is essentially about transformation, and we also tend to use roast and bake to talk about two different kinds of change: we roast firm, structured things (think carrots and whole chickens) to make them softer and less structured, and we bake soft, unstructured things (think brownie batter and bread dough) to make them firm and more structured. But those are only generalizations and exceptions abound. Consider potatoes: we start with firm and structured raw potatoes whether we’re baking or roasting them; the baked ones (traditionally hot, whole things to be adorned with butter and sour cream and any number of toppings) come out soft and the roasted ones (traditionally bite-sized morsels to fill out a breakfast plate) have crispy, browned edges where they’ve been cut.

We contacted a number of oven manufacturers to find out what’s actually going on in the ovens in our homes and learned some interesting things. In some ovens the “roast” setting does exactly the same thing as the “bake” setting: 325˚ on roast is indistinguishable from 325˚ on bake, (hence your imagined experience above). In other ovens, the heat comes from one part of the oven during roasting and another part of the oven during baking. Some ovens have no explicit roast option at all; you’re always on bake, so if you want to roast you’ll use a higher temperature. In other ovens, roasting is only available with convection, in which the hot air is forced to move throughout the oven thereby accelerating the cooking process, while baking can be done with convection or without. In ovens in which “bake” and “roast” mean functionally different things, you are likely to see a difference between cookies baked at 325˚ for 12–15 minutes and cookies roasted at 325˚ for 12–15 minutes. The latter batch is likely to be a bit crisper, to have a little less moisture in it—theoretically anyway.

Modern appliances aside, the distinction between roasting and baking used to be clearer: roasting was done over a fire and baking was done in an oven. A thousand years ago, English speakers were totally clear on that, but not so that one of us would have understood. They were using a now-unrecognizable form of the word bake, and instead of roast they were using the long-obsolete word brede; roast is a relative newcomer, dating only to the 13th century. A century after they started using roast they adopted broil to mean “burn, char.” That word now refers to cooking by direct exposure to radiant heat, and in modern ovens involves something like a grill but inside your oven. Instead of the cooking happening by exposing the food to hot air, the food is exposed directly to the heat source.

As with so many language issues, you can rely on your instincts—and your cookbooks—with these terms. There are some foods that are traditionally roasted and others that are traditionally baked, and the terms normally used in each circumstance will sound most familiar. While some ovens make a distinction between roasting and baking, you’re probably not going to ruin a meal by choosing the one not mentioned in the recipe. However you roast your roasts or bake your bakes, we wish you good luck.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Lol! Lots of words to say “basically no difference in the modern world.”

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