Ahead of the final episode to be shown on the BBC, find out more about the 61-year-old garden designer – and how her life has changed post-Bake Off.
Why did you apply to be part of the show?
My friend Harriet nagged me every year to fill out the application form, so I gave in this year! I didn’t really have any hesitation about applying because I didn’t think I would get in. It was only when I made the final 12 that the sleepless nights started.
Who taught you to bake?
My mother taught me to bake basic stuff: fairy cakes, fruit cake… she was a solid cook but not very adventurous. My father was more artistic in the kitchen and taught me how to ice cakes and decorate things.
How often do you bake?
I bake less now than I did because the children are away much of the week, but I will make a loaf three times a week and a cake twice a week. I do some maths tutoring and like to have a cake on hand for students: it helps to make an after-school lesson go down a little more easily.
How big is your kitchen?
It’s not enormous, but we do have a breakfast bar, where the kids will sit one side chatting while I’m preparing food on the other. The kitchen is the place where most of the talking and eating takes place.
What has been your biggest baking disaster?
Hundreds of things, from unrisen bread and sunken cakes to soggy meringue. What I have learnt is that most things are salvageable and if not there’s always the supermarket up the road!
What was your biggest high and low on the programme?
My biggest high was winning star baker in the first week. My fear was that I would go out in the first week so to win star baker far exceeded my expectations. My deepest low was definitely week six’s showstopper. I had been looking forward to creating the three-tier floral cake but on the day everything that could go wrong did.
How did you balance the show with your day job?
I am self-employed, so for me it was relatively easy. I’m an early riser and frequently at my desk at 5am because clients prefer meetings in the morning or evening, so I could make my days as elastic as necessary.
Has your life changed since the end of Bake Off?
Getting spotted in the street is an absolute pleasure – it’s a show that makes people very happy. I’d quite like to do a recipe book and have started putting together some of my family recipes but we shall see.
The Great British Bake Off final is on BBC1 tonight at 8pm