Baking is a method of cooking food that uses prolonged dry heat, normally in an oven, but also in hot ashes, or on hot stones. The most common baked item is bread but many other types of foods are baked. Heat is gradually transferred “from the surface of cakes, cookies, and breads to their centre. As heat travels through it transforms batters and doughs into baked goods with a firm dry crust and a softer centre”. Baking can be combined with grilling to produce a hybrid barbecue variant by using both methods simultaneously, or one after the other. Baking is related to barbecuing because the concept of the masonry oven is similar to that of a smoke pit.
Because of historical social and familial roles, baking has traditionally been performed at home by women for domestic consumption and by men in bakeries and restaurants for local consumption. When production was industrialized, baking was automated by machines in large factories. The art of baking remains a fundamental skill and is important for nutrition, as baked goods, especially breads, are a common but important food, both from an economic and cultural point of view. A person who prepares baked goods as a profession is called a baker.