Entertainment & Arts

Great British Bake Off winner is crowned

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Media captionNancy Birtwhistle said she was still baking and inventing new recipes

Nancy Birtwhistle has been crowned the winner of this year's Great British Bake Off.

The 60-year-old grandmother from Lincolnshire beat her two rivals - favourite Richard Burr and Luis Troyano - to claim the title.

She said that she "couldn't remember what happened" when her name was announced and called it "one of the best things" she has done in her life.

An average 12.3 million viewers watched the final, up from 8.4 million in 2013.

The fifth series of the popular show saw it switch from BBC Two to BBC One for the first time. When the winner was revealed, a total of 49% of the UK viewing public were watching.

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Media captionThe winner of the Great British Bake Off is announced

Bake Off judge Mary Berry said Nancy had proved "consistent throughout" the weeks of competition, adding her "quiet determination saw her through".

"It was a close run when it came to judging the final, but Nancy is deservedly our winner and I must admit that I have been inspired by her baking."

Fellow judge Paul Hollywood added: ''Nancy has been confident, creative and unafraid as a baker and that showed from the very start.

"In one of my judgings I called her close to perfection, so that says it for me."

Both judges agreed that the class of 2014 had proved "exceptional" and "a joy to judge".

The final three competitors were pushed to the limit with a series of baking challenges, including signature Viennoiserie, Mini Tarte Au Citron, Mini Victoria Sponges, Mini Scones, and the piece de resistance showstopper cake.

Nancy said the show had given her a huge boost.

"To get positive feedback from Paul and Mary takes you to a completely different level. I have never had comments from people in such authority on their subject," she said.

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Image caption Nancy's baking was described as being "close to perfection"

"It carries such a great feeling when the judges say your bake is perfect, it gives you confidence and a terrific buzz."

She also revealed she had been getting up early to practise her baking skills.

"My earliest practice run was 5am - I would set the alarm and attempt the showstopper challenge of five hours, so at least by 10am if it hadn't worked out you knew you could have another go without losing the whole day," she said.

And her advice to wannabe Bake Off contestants is: "Baking isn't difficult, you have to just keep trying and practising. I am still learning techniques even now, and I can sometimes make a complete mess of things!

"And when that happens you just start again, keep your patience and try and gain your confidence."

Describing the experience of competing on the show, she added: "Each week we were being told what we were good at, and where we could improve. You felt that you were getting this personal one-to-one tuition for 10 weeks, and doing something you really enjoy.

"Without any doubt whatsoever, it is one of the best things I have done in my life."

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