Difference Between Roasting and Baking
Has anyone ever wondered why it is called baking when we put a cake in an oven and roasting when we cook chicken inside the same oven? In fact, it’s hard to tell the difference between the two cooking methods today, but one must remember that the fire and radiant heat are essential components in the roasting. Let us go in deep and try to unveil the real difference between roasting and baking.
Roasting is a method of cooking that is as old as civilization, or at least when man first learned to make fire. He cooked the food over an open fire, which was indeed more delicious than eating it raw. Strictly speaking, roasting is cooking over the fire. The meat is placed in such a position that the heat of fire affects the whole surface and there is a hint of fresh air around the meat. This way, the meat retains its juices while it’s being cooked and develops more taste than any other cooking processes. The heat should not be insufficient or too intense charring of the meat. The insufficient heat hardens the surface by evaporating juice from the meat resulting in meat to lose its flavor and taste. The rotating of the meat every couple of minutes not only ensures proper cooking, it also helps to retain juice and improve its taste.
Roasting can be done in an oven, but only when the ventilation system in the equipment is excellent. Yet one must compromise on taste as some of the flavors do not come properly in an oven. While roasting meat in the oven, sprinkle with salt and pepper only when the meat is almost ready, as doing so before would drain the juice from the meat and harden the fiber.
Baking is similar to roasting with the difference that here cooking takes place a closed environment with hot air blowing from all sides. While baking, the heat is not as much as required while roasting, but is radiated from the top, bottom and sides of the oven. In baking, minimal amount of meat is lost than when roasting, but the taste and flavor remains less compared to roasted meat. Again, there is the constant heat, while cooking meat in an oven which takes lesser time than when roasted in the open air.
If you intend to prepare breads, pastries, cakes, puddings, vegetables and so on, cooking in an oven is always preferred to roasting. Thus, baking normally includes flour based cooking where the heat generated inside the oven helps molding food structures. This heat is just enough to produce the scorching on the outside and softening of the dough in the center.
So as we conclude, both roasting and baking are “dry heat” cooking methods as heat is not generated through a liquid medium such as oil. In a sense, roasting is a specialized type of baking. Roasting is traditionally done in an open pan, symbolizing that the meat is roasted in the open air. In modern times, baking became more associated with breads, cakes and casseroles where as roasting is connected with the meat and vegetables. The difference in the two cooking methods is that you refer to roasting when the food item has a structure (meat and vegetables) and you call it baking when the food item has no structure and gets it when finally cooked like bread, cakes, pastries, pies etc.