Baking is the technique of cooking food in an oven by dry heat applied evenly throughout the oven. The person that does the baking is called a baker. Breads, desserts, and meat (see also roasting) are often baked, and baking is the primary cooking technique used to produce cakes and pastry-based goods such as pies, tarts, and quiches. Such items are sometimes referred to as "baked goods," and are sold at a bakery.
The dry heat of baking gelatinizes starch and causes the outside of the food to brown or char, giving it an attractive appearance and taste, as well as sealing in the food's moisture. The browning is caused by caramelization of sugars and is the result of the Maillard reaction. Moisture is never really entirely "sealed in," however; over time, an item being baked will become drier and drier. This is often an advantage, especially in situations where drying is the desired outcome, for example in drying herbs or in roasting certain types of vegetables.
To compensate for moisture loss, some items (usually meats) are basted on the surface with butter or oil to slow the loss of moisture through the skin. Some foods are replenished with moisture during baking by placing a small amount of liquid (such as water or broth) in the bottom of the pan, and letting it steam up into or around the food.