The Main Differences Between Cooking and Baking

Woman baking
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Cooking and baking are important life skills, and it’s not uncommon to hear the terms used interchangeably. While it’s true that both include transforming raw ingredients into something more palatable, the techniques and equipment they utilize to do so are actually quite different, and understanding the science behind how each practice works is essential to improving one’s abilities in the kitchen. Read on to learn more.

Precision vs. Creativity

One of the biggest differences between cooking and baking is the degree of flexibility that each of them allows. Baking is comparable to a scientific experiment, requiring precise measurements and ratios of ingredients. Cooking, on the other hand, offers more room for improvisation. You can add a dash of this or a pinch of that without having to worry about compromising the integrity of the recipe.

Temperature Control

Temperature is an important aspect of getting any dish right, the requirements for baked goods are relatively standard, while cooking tends to offer a bit more wiggle room. The proper level of heat for the right amount of time can mean the difference between a cake that comes out fluffy, moist, and golden brown, and burnt-to-a-crisp cookies that are still liquidy inside. A dish cooked at the wrong temperature may be easier to rescue.

Time Management

As with measurements and temperature control, timing is everything when it comes to how a dish turns out. Cooking often involves heating ingredients in stages, and it’s a good idea to prepare all of your ingredients in advance so you can keep up with the recipe without letting anything burn. Baked goods are almost always heated in one go, though even a minute too long in the oven can lead to a dry, crumbly texture.