Baking is a food cooking method using prolonged dry heat acting by convection, rather than by thermal radiation, 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”.
The virtually infinite combinations of different flours, and differing proportions of ingredients, has resulted in the wide variety of types, shapes, sizes, and textures available around the world. It may be leavened (aerated) by a number of different processes ranging from the use of naturally-occurring microbes to high-pressure artificial aeration during preparation and/or baking, or may be left unleavened. A wide variety of additives may be used, from fruits and nuts to various fats, to chemical additives designed to improve flavour, texture, colour, and/or shelf life.