The actual differences between roasting and baking are not great, the terms being frequently interchanged. Roasting proper is cooking before the fire. It is one of the oldest methods of cooking on record, and still remains the favorite form of preparing poultry, game, and meats. Roasting is cooking by the direct action of radiating heat, and roasted meat is, strictly speaking, meat which has been placed in such a position that the radiation of a fire affects the whole surface equally, while at the same time a current of fresh air passes around it. Meat thus cooked will retain more of the juices and develop more flavor than by any other process. Should the heat be insufficient to harden the surface albumen quickly, the watery juices evaporate, and the meat becomes dry and tasteless. The heat must not be so intense that the albumen is hardened all through the meat; after the preliminary ten or fifteen minutes, it must be reduced, or the meat will be tough and charred. The meat should be basted every ten minutes, as this helps to cook it, keeps it juicy, and improves the flavor. The time allowed is fifteen minutes for every pound, and twenty minutes over for beef and mutton; for veal and pork, twenty minutes for every pound and thirty minutes over. Boned and rolled or stuffed meats require longer cooking than the same joints would if neither rolled nor stuffed.

Roasting may be performed in a properly ventilated oven. This is considered to give less excellent results than roasting before a fire, the flavor being frequently less delicate, but this will depend largely on the perfect cleanliness of the oven and the system of its ventilation. The proper time and process of roasting must be left to the good judgment of the cook, who should be guided by circumstances and conditions. Sprinkle meat with pepper and salt when nearly ready, as salt sprinkled on before the meat is brown will draw out the juice and toughen the fiber.

Baking is cooking in close hot air, and hot air plays a very important part in cooking. Although baking in an oven is not done by radiating heat, there is a large amount of heat radiated from the top and bottom and sides of the oven. Meat loses rather less weight when baked than when roasted, but the flavor of baked meat is inferior and less developed. The heat of an oven being steady, baking takes somewhat less time than roasting.

For baking bread, cakes, pastry, puddings, custards, vegetables, and farinaceous dishes, the oven will always remain in favor. In baking, especially puff pastry and souffles, it is well to know that opening the door of an oven is detrimental to fine pastry in process of baking. Baked custards and milk puddings require a more moderate oven than pastry, and a longer time in baking, for if they are baked too quick the milk will turn watery in the dish, while the top will burn. The difference between baking and boiling is that by the former method the food is cooked by dry heat, while the latter is cooked by liquid heat. Baking, as compared with other cooking processes, such as broiling and roasting, differs in this: while by broiling and roasting the food is cooked by full exposure to the hot air, baking is performed in ovens, more or less close structures, whereby the action of dry heat is modified by the presence of the steam that comes from the food which is being baked.