While baking is mistakenly considered “oven cooking,” it doesn’t accurately specify the actual cooking method. Baking is the process of leaving the food uncovered inside a vessel inside a dry heat. This allows the dry heat to work inside the food, utilizing its moisture. You can bake certain foods like cookies, bread, muffins, and cakes.
Baking is commonly done with sweets, but it can also be used on some vegetables. However, suppose you prolong the food inside the oven and increase its overall temperature. In that case, you can now roast your dish. Roasting your food produce scorched areas that elevates the overall flavor and texture.
While specific recipes call for covering your food with foil, lid, or any material—it changes the cooking method into something else. Covering the food will prevent direct heat from penetrating the dish, allowing it to release moisture. The moisture of certain products enables the food to be cooked thoroughly without the risk of burning it.
Covering your food means that you are not baking your food—but instead, you are braising, poaching, or steaming it. Moist cooking, which involves introducing liquid to maintain moisture to your food, is not considered under the baking cooking method.
What’s the Difference Between Baking Covered and Uncovered?
Considering the abovementioned, it is easier to track the difference between covering and uncovering your baked product. Leaving your bakeware uncovered will allow the dry heat from the oven to cook the food thoroughly. This cooking method is essentially considered the foundation of actual baking.
Baking is a standard oven cooking method used for food dishes such as cakes, eclairs, pot pies, bread, pastries, and even pasta. In a general sense, you must leave your baked product uncovered during the cooking process. Going your baked product exposed provides the dry heat from penetrating the dough—producing a brown, flaky crust.
Dry heat is also essential for the leavening agent found on the dough to “awaken,” which raises the heat. Specific ingredients suggest when to leave the baked product covered or uncovered. In some cases, the baked product already develops a brown crust just before the insides are cooked thoroughly. This is the right time to cover it with foil or lid and allow the moisture to cook the food thoroughly without burning the exterior.
Certain products like steamed cake or bread pudding suggest covering the dish during the entire cooking process. This is also applicable to some products like baked macaroni and cheese. Baking your food covered will allow the hot moisture to cook the food further without drying it. That is why several baked products are cooked, protected, removed, and let the dry heat scorch the exposed layer of your baked goods.
Are You Supposed to Cover a Cake When Baking?
Technically, specific ingredients use different cooking methods during their cooking process. If you want to get the actual product, following the particular instructions and ingredients will prevent you from altering the finished product. Baking is not a complicated task, but it requires diligence in following specific methods, techniques, and components.
A sudden change in the conditions will result in a minimal to a drastic change to your baked goods. Covering your cake will produce moisture to your cake, but too much moisture will create a puddle of water inside your baking pan. This water can eventually lead to a soggy center with a crater-like appearance.
The best way to prevent excess moisture during your baking process is to follow the instructions. Baking methods that use the cover technique (like the Dutch oven method) have specific changes in the moisture content of the dough mixture. This alteration gives way for the produced moisture will not change the quality of your baked product.
Remember to follow these golden rules of baking:
- Leaving your baked product uncovered will create a slightly dried food but with a crispy-crunchy exterior. This method is suggested for bread, pastries, and pies.
- If you don’t want your food to develop a brown color, you can keep your baked goods covered throughout the baking process. It creates moisture which is essential to keep the food moist for long hours.
- The Dutch oven method is considered a hybrid of dry heat and moist heat cooking. This works by allowing the dry heat to penetrate the bakeware instead of the actual bread. This creates a vacuum of heat inside the bread, while the lid collects water and moisture to keep the bread soft.
- Baking meats, fish, and poultry must be done with proper covering. The moisture collected inside the foil cover will prevent the food from drying out. When the food doesn’t have enough water, the insides of the food will remain uncooked.
Do Things Bake Faster Covered or Uncovered in the Oven?
Technically, the baking time is not dependent on when the baked goods are covered and uncovered. Temperature, preheating method, and ingredients are the essential factors that change the food’s cooking time. Covering your food during the cooking process will allow the moisture to trap inside—thus making sure that the insides of your food are cooked thoroughly.
This, however, will not speed up the cooking process of your dish. It will still follow its recommended cooking type for each ingredient used. Cakes and pastries can be cooked within an hour, and it doesn’t change even if you cover the food. Covering the food will change the moisture content of the food, but it will not affect the cooking time.
If you want your product to bake faster, you may consider the following:
- Creating smaller portions will drastically reduce the cooking time. Smaller amounts have a generally wider surface area that is exposed during the cooking process.
- For meats, cooking it on the stove before placing it inside the oven will reduce the cooking process. This will also prevent making meat cooked on the outside but is left uncooked in the center.
- Soaking your food with buttermilk or yogurt will speed up the cooking process. The enzymes found in these dairy products break down protein faster, allowing the bread to cook more quickly.