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Roast vs. Bake

I know that coffee beans and meat are roasted and bread, cakes and cookies are baked. Both methods are described in the dictionary as "cooking by means of dry heat."

Is there a technical difference between these two, or is the method the same and determined only by the object to be cooked?

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  1. Interesting question. I roast something at a higher temp than I bake something (450-500 vs. 350-), And what I roast is usually (always?) a whole thing (chicken) or a roast.

    8 Replies
    1. re: bayoucook

      I agree with the higher temp but I "roast" vegetables also.

      1. re: c oliver

        Yes, and people bake chicken. To me, roasting includes a browned-fat component (there's a name for the process of caramelizing fat rather than sugar, but it's not coming to me this morning). Something that's baked doesn't have to have this, but something that's roasted does.

        1. re: Ruth Lafler

          I believe you're referring to the Maillard reaction.

          1. re: Bob Brooks

            a) I'm not sure Maillard reaction is the same thing, and
            b) There's a specific word for it

      2. re: bayoucook

        So you roast your pizza not bake it?? You roast biscuits too??

        DT

        1. re: Davwud

          Damn! You got me there! And I roast vegetables, too. Should've waited to reply after my second cup of coffee! ;= )

          1. re: bayoucook

            I personally don't have an answer. I suppose they're synonyms.

            DT

            1. re: bayoucook

              I hate it when I get nailed pre-coffee :)

        2. Roast, toast? Bake, schmake? I think there's really no difference. It's the attachment to different foods (bread vs. chicken) that's part of the English language that's the difference. But then, I don't know the etymology of the words.

          Upon giving etymology a thought, it occurred to me that when cooking was done at a hearth in the kitchen, meats would be roasted *in* the fireplace, and baking was done in an "oven" that was part of the chimney, *next* to the fireplace. Perhaps that's where the difference comes from...

            1. There was no problem with the terms until someone decided to "modernize" his baked fish by saying it was "roasted," and all of a sudden we had roasted this and that after it was baked in the oven. Roasted is so much tastier, as a word. It's just faux foodie-ismo.

              1. TV cooking-show veteran Maryann Esposito always says "cook" instead of "bake" but I can't recall if she says "roast". I've always wondered if it's a translation glitch, a la Lidia Bastianich's "close the fire" instead of "turn off the burner".

                1 Reply
                1. re: greygarious

                  I saw her walking down Boylston st the other day. I said ciao. She laughed.