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Sep 15, 2008 08:23 PM

What's the difference: roast or bake?

My new oven has a temperature selection knob -- pretty standard -- and another where I can choose convection, or broil, or fast heat, etc. But there are also two different settings (ROAST and BAKE) that seem the same to me. Is there a difference when I choose one over the other? If I use 'roast' for meats, say, and 'bake' for cakes and cookies, then which should I choose for a frozen pizza? How do I choose?

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  1. Roasting refers to cooking in an oven using a "wet" environment. When you bake, the food cooks in a dry environment.
    We roast meat and bake cakes.

    5 Replies
    1. re: todao

      Both bake and roast refer to cooking in in dry heat - my personal opinioin is that difference is that amount of exposed area to the heat - typically with roasting you will all sides exposed to the heat like with the use of a roasting rack or a rotisserie spit while baking is usually done a pan filled with the material being baked - like a cake, casserole or bread -

      1. re: weinstein5

        ok, the question is, what difference does it make in how the atmosphere is in inside the oven

        1. re: shoelace

          that I am not sure - I have both settings on my ovens but have not tried to see what the difference is - with convection though I recall it affects how the oven temperature is maintained -

        2. re: weinstein5

          "Both bake and roast refer to cooking in in dry heat"
          We agree on that point. Roasting and baking are both done with "dry heat". But the heat source is not the issue. The issue is the overall environment. A "dry oven" uses the dry heat source to bake the food. A "wet oven" uses moisture added to the recipe (i.e. basting liquids) to create a wetter environment for the oven contents. When roasting, heat envelopes (generally speaking) the food item - convection. When baking, the heated container transfers heat to the food through conduction.
          "Baked potato" is a misnomer. They are more commonly roasted.

        3. re: todao

          In this application, what do we do to potatoes or squash?

        4. What does the oven manual say?

          Sounds like this oven has several heating elements, probably one on top for broiling, on on the bottom, and other associated with a fan for convection.

          I am guessing that bake only uses the bottom element. Roast may use a combination of bottom and top, or bottom and convection. With baking, such as bread and cakes, you want an even heat, which typically is produced by letting heat rise from the bottom.

          Roasting, such as when cooking a roast or chicken, shifts the heat balance toward the top - browning the top of the meat as is as important, if not more so, than the bottom.

          Unless there is a means of adding moisture to the oven, the wet v dry difference does not apply to the oven knob.

          1. Thanks for all the suggestions. Following up on paulj's suggestion, I went back to the owner's manual which says both for Bake and for Roast: "Both the upper and lower elements cycle to maintain the oven temperature."

            But for Roast (only), the manual adds the following: "Roasting uses more intense heat from the upper element than the lower element. This results in more browning of the exterior while the inside remains especially moist."

            I guess it's Roast for large cuts of meat, but probably Bake for most other oven applications. I think I'll try to see if Roast makes a browner, crispier crust on a casserole.

            1. I think,if it is convection roast and convection bake, the roast setting will run at the actual temperature, while convection baking will be a lower temperature adjusted to the convection, so you can sue non-convection recipes with it. i believe that is how mine works, but i don't bake much in any case and may have never actually used the convection bake setting

              if they are 2 different non-convection settings i have no clue.

              as a general answer - i always thought of roasting as higher heat than baking