Many people would argue that cooking and baking are different. To some degree, they are correct. They may use some of the same utensils, but they don’t always use the same ingredients. Cooking and baking have their similarities, and differences. Cooking refers to the preparation of food in general. Just as there are different categories in the study of science such as geology, astronomy, and geography, there are different categories of cooking. These categories include, but are not limited to, frying, broiling, steaming, and baking.
People use words such as frying or baking to be more specific about the method they use. Some of the same measuring utensils may be used when making a dry rub for ribs as would be used in measuring baking soda for cookies. You use the same type of measuring cup for getting the correct amount of broth for chicken soup as you would measure milk for a cupcake recipe. When baking, you use an oven or an enclosed area where heat is then applied to your product, as opposed to other forms of cooking where the food is cooked over an open stovetop or grill.
Baking generally involves leavening, such as yeast, and a grain base, such as flour. When you bake, you put everything together as best you can. There’s not a lot of discretion. You follow a recipe using some basic techniques. Adjustments hardly ever have to be made. There is no collection of data while it is in the oven. Cooking on the stove top is different. When you’re making soup or stew or cooking pasta, you assess often. You taste and make adjustments. With soup, you may taste it ten or twelve times in order to figure out is salt or other seasonings need to be added.
You collect data, and make adjustments based on a taste test. So are baking and cooking really two different things? I think so. A person who makes their living studying rocks is different than a person who studies plants. In a bakery, you don’t tend to smell the aroma of chicken soup, but of freshly baked bread. You wouldn’t make cookies in a skillet over a stove, just as you wouldn’t tomato soup in an oven. There are many forms of cooking, and each one is uniquely different.