This is an actual conversation I had at lunch today, transcribed from memory.
He: I’ve been wondering…do you know what the difference is between baking and roasting?
Me: Ooh, I know I read about that once but I just can’t recall it right now. Here, let me Google it [pulling out the phone]…baking vs. roasting…here it is: “If you’re cooking food that has a solid structure — like any type of meat or vegetables — no matter the temperature of the oven, you’ll roast it. If you’re cooking food that doesn’t already have a solid structure, but will after it’s cooked — like muffins, cake, bread, and casseroles — the proper method is baking.”
He: So it’s the same technique, just applied to different things?
Me: Yes, pretty much. You roast things that already have a structure, and you bake things that you want to firm up.
He: Don’t you think it’s odd that one technique should have two different names depending on what you are using it for?
Me: No, not really.
He: Well, what about baked chicken? I’ve heard the term baking applied to chicken.
Me: Googling “Baked Chicken” doesn’t return a definition. Just a bunch of recipes. “Simple Baked Chicken Breasts Recipe”, “Oven-Baked Chicken recipe from Betty Crocker”, “Classic Baked Chicken Recipe”, oh here’s a roasted chicken recipe. The terms seem to be used interchangeably.
He: So people do use the term “Baked Chicken”?
Me: Yes. Ignorant people who don’t know the proper usage.
He: I’m going to pretend I didn’t hear that.