If you make pizza from scratch and put it in your oven, what's the most natural/predominant verb for what you're doing to the pizza? Cooking? Baking? Firing? Something else? None of these sounds entirely right to me (native English speaker), and my friends and Google results don't give a clear answer. I often see variation on a single web page between "cooking" and "baking."

I'm not concerned with the preparing, chopping, or kneading that comes before putting it in the oven. I just want to know what you're doing to the pizza while it's in the oven.

  • Are you referring to the entire process, from chopping up the mushrooms, onions, peppers etc, grating the cheese, to putting the whole thing in the oven and then removing it? If you are, then the only word I can think of is "preparing". – WS2 Oct 15 at 8:27
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    You're making the pizza. As you yourself just said without even noticing. That's how natural it is. – RegDwigнt Oct 15 at 9:23
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    Making the pizza includes kneading the dough, cutting the mushrooms, etc. I'm looking for the verb specific to the cooking process. As part of making bread, you bake it. As part of making pizza, you ? it. – dubiousjim Oct 15 at 9:30
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    For what it's worth, the Domino's online order tracking system uses "bake". – Anthony Grist Oct 15 at 22:47
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    While not exactly definitive, there is a US restaurant chain Papa Murphy's Take N' Bake Pizza. They make the pizza and you take it home and bake it. – TemporalWolf Oct 15 at 22:50

I work for a pizza chain and we always just say cook.

Technically, the method of cooking is baking as that means "place in a hot chamber for a period of time". Other words, such as boil, roast, etc. have different meanings.

But people often use vocabulary appropriate to the type of food. They often talk about roasting meat because that is how meat used to be cooked, even if they are actually baking it.

Roast is related to rotate. Roasting meant turning something (usually meat) in front of, or over, the fire. Fat would drip off. This would be collected and poured back on. This is called basting. Potatoes etc. could be out in the tray that was collecting the fat, and thus get heated by the fire while being basted. Thus the term roast has been extended from "rotate" to "cook while pouring oil/fat over", or even "cook in a method that replaces roasting". Thus baked potatoes are baked without fat, but roast potatoes are baked with fat.

This is distinct from frying. In roasting the oil is there just for succulence, flavour, etc., but in frying the oil is heated and this is what cooks the food.

Bake is the traditional term for bread, cakes and biscuits, i.e. the things made by a baker. Pizza is a type of bread so bake is the correct term, however you look at it.

Some people may use terminology to reflect their particular process, e.g. fire to imply that their oven is particularly hot or contains flames.

It is also worth noting that a modern oven is heated while it is cooking, making it a much more flexible machine. Originally, you had to light a fire in the oven to heat it (so the oven was fired, not the food), then, when the fire was out, it was removed (so the food was not covered in too much smoke, ash and soot) and then the food was baked.

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    The difference between baking and roasting is that the application of heat is doing different things. In one case, the starch granules of the flour are being gelatinized; in the other, the protein fibres of the meat are being broken into shorter chain lengths. – Nigel J Oct 15 at 11:06
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    @NigelJ I don't believe this is correct - even if it does tend to hold true. Baked fish for example, involves breaking down proteins the same as roasting chicken. From dictionary definitions, the only real difference seems to be (in the context of an oven) that baking is most common for certain foods, roasting is more common for others. Potatoes are even more of an anomaly; as a "baked potato" and "roast potato" really only differs in how they are prepared, not how the heat is applied (or what the heat does). – Bilkokuya Oct 15 at 14:11
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    @NigelJ you are roasting them wrong, mine are never burnt – WendyG Oct 15 at 14:36
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    @NigelJ I'm not aware that they had any idea what was actually happening when these terms were invented. They clearly refer to what you do, not what a chemist says happens. – David Robinson Oct 15 at 14:44
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    "Wood fired" would be a chic term of baking these days and would denote baking on a stone type surface, often a rotating one, over an actual flame rather than a heating element (sometimes with the type of wood fueling the fire chosen for flavor impact e.g. "apple wood fired"). – ohwilleke Oct 15 at 18:57

I suspect that this answer will reflect regional diversity, but I always use "bake".

Supermarkets and certain pizzerias sell uncooked pizzas to bake yourself at home, i.e.

(Disclaimer: URLs selected to reflect language usage, no promotion implied. Pineapple and anchovies are both tasty but not on the same pizza, please.)

  • Donnow about pineapples -maybe the acid won't sit well- but anchovies with condensed milk over a slice of bread is a really yummi Spanish recipe :) – brasofilo Oct 15 at 14:15

Yet another answer is "firing". Why? Because the pizza chain (Blaze) makes an issue of the fact that they put it in a fire oven at a really high temperature.

But most of the time we use "baking" which is decently covered already.

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    I believe the reason your answer isn’t upvoted, is because you are arguing anecdotally; one pizza chain choosing a word such as this, could equally well be a way of branding themselves as different, better or what-have-you from their competitors, much the same as Burger King’s ‘flame-grilled’ ads. – Canned Man Oct 16 at 8:19
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    There are other chains in other places that brag about their "oven-fired" pizzas. – arp Oct 27 at 18:41

Since we are talking about Pizza, in Italian we say "Infornare" which translate directly to "Baking", so i guess is the most correct answer

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    Why is it the most correct? Just because it's directly translated as such from Italian doesn't make it the best choice in English. – JJJ Oct 16 at 14:24
  • Why would you say the contrary? Since Italians created the Pizza i assume the term they (we) use is the correct one, especially when there is a direct translation for it in English. – Dave Plug Oct 16 at 16:54
  • Who says infornare translates as "bake". If the correct Italian term is infornare then it follows that the whole of this discussion is about what is the English for infornare. But it can be pointed out that if we take the word apart then it becomes in-forn-are, in-oven-to, or "to put in the oven". That would solve a lot of argument! – David Robinson Oct 17 at 12:28

Baking. Firing if using a large-style gas or coal or wood oven. Cooking isn't entirely inappropriate.

  • Please explain why your answer is correct. – JJJ Oct 16 at 14:26
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    ...and why simple reposting the verb offered by this answer a day after it was posted is useful. – T.J. Crowder Oct 16 at 14:39
  • Duplicate answers can be useful. It often depends more on the usefulness of the explanation than the answer itself. To show that yours is the right answer, consider adding explanation, context, and supporting facts. This is what makes answers useful – to the asker, and to future visitors. See: “Real questions have answers, not items or ideas or opinions”. – MetaEd Oct 16 at 17:15

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