Warning – contains spoilers. Do not read any further if you do not want to know who won.
Candice Brown has been named as the Queen of Great British Bake Off after a royal-themed final.
The 31-year-old PE teacher said she was in “complete and utter disbelief” at beating finalists Jane Beedle and Andrew Smyth to be crowned champion.
Paul Hollywood said the amateur baker was “one of the best”, while fellow judge Mary Berry said she “excelled”.
It is Bake Off’s seventh series – and the final one broadcast on the BBC after Channel 4 bought the rights.
Candice, from Bedfordshire, said that winning was the biggest moment of her life so far.
Peacock and pub
The finale saw the trio create a three-layered meringue crown for the signature challenge – which Candice filled with prosecco-soaked berries and pistachio jewels, topped with a miniature Queen Victoria crown.
They then had to make a perfect Victoria sponge cake for the technical challenge, set by Mary Berry, with only one instruction and no measurements given.
The showstopper saw them produce a picnic fit for a Queen, with multiple elements including sausage rolls, fruit tarts and a chocolate celebration cake.
Candice offered pig-shaped sausage rolls as part of her showstopper bid to win over the judges.
Berry said the challenge – with the most bakes ever requested for one of the rounds of the show – was an “absolute humdinger”.
She said Candice’s win was “well deserved for her determination and passion”, adding that she used “wonderful flavours, and everything always looked gorgeous”.
Hollywood said: “The standard was exceptionally high. Candice is very much all or nothing.
“When you look back on some of her bakes they have been beautiful. When she nails it, she is one of the best.”
Highlights of Candice’s Bake Off career have included a marzipan peacock and a gingerbread version of the pub she grew up in, complete with a sticky carpet.
‘Can’t stop smiling’
She said of her win: “When they said my name, that means more to me than anyone will ever realise.
“I have low self-belief, even though my friends and family constantly build my confidence up. So it was a big moment in my life, probably the biggest so far.
“I felt that everything happens for a reason, and I did it, and that makes me smile so much. In fact, I can’t stop smiling.
‘When they announced the winner, I almost didn’t hear it, and was in complete and utter disbelief. I was aware of it but I couldn’t take it in. Mary and Paul came over and I thought my knees would give way, I was trembling so much.
“One of the biggest moments for me was when Mary gave me the bouquet of flowers, and Paul handed me the trophy, and Paul said to me ‘take it, it’s yours’ and then I cried. I was in shock but totally elated.”
She said she “loved every second” of the final – especially making the sausage rolls during the five-hour showstopper challenge.
“Sausage rolls are always asked for by my family, my signature dish, so to make those in the final was great,” she said. “I made crackling curly tails and I managed to fill the tent with smoke as I was cooking the crackling, and they had to open the panels on the tent.”
Candice, who was named star baker three times during the series, said the final day was “very emotional”.
“At one stage the tent was completely empty apart from me, Andrew and Jane just chatting,” she said.
“We had a bit of a hug and a Polaroid picture which I keep in my wallet. When we had to walk out, I could see my family out of the corner of my eye, and I forced myself not to cry.”
She was congratulated by boyfriend Liam and pet pug Dennis after being named winner, and added: “I will remember that squeeze for the rest of my life – what a feeling.”
She said being named star baker was the best part of the show, while her worst moment was bread week – when Hollywood would not eat her bread, as it was raw.
Asked about her future following her success, Candice said: “If I can get my little vintage shop selling tea and cakes with random antiques that would be my ultimate dream.
“Let’s wait and see what will come my way but I will be grabbing it with both hands and running with it, that’s for sure. It would be crazy not to, wouldn’t it?”
In credits shown at the end of the programme, it was revealed that Candice and rival Jane are planning to go on a baking road trip together.
Engineer Andrew, 25 had created a meringue crown with a praline filling during the signature challenge, while garden designer Jane, 61, made a patriotic red, white and blue centrepiece.
Andrew excelled during the technical challenge, coming top of the leaderboard, but Candice was judged to have been the best baker overall.
Bake Off winners: Where are they now?
If Candice follows the path of previous champions, she has television shows and cookery books to look forward to in her future career.
- Series one – The 2010 winner Edd Kimber has three recipe books – The Boy Who Bakes, Say It With Cake and Patisserie Made Simple. He runs a baking blog, also called The Boy Who Bakes. He writes for magazines and newspapers, and makes regular TV appearances on food shows.
- Series two – Jo Wheatley now runs a cake-making school from home and has published two books, A Passion For Baking and Home Baking.
- Series three – John Whaite swapped plans to become a lawyer for life as a chef by setting up his own cookery school. Whaite has published two books – John Whaite Bakes At Home and Perfect Plates In 5 Ingredients. He also writes for the Telegraph, and is resident chef on ITV’s Lorraine.
- Series four – Frances Quinn has published a recipe book, Quinntessential Baking, and baked for artist Quentin Blake, broadcaster Clare Balding and the Tate’s Matisse exhibition. She also has a blog featuring her latest creations and runs cooking demos.
- Series five – Retired grandmother of eight Nancy Birtwhistle now writes about the show for the Telegraph. Her website features her tips and recipes.
- Series six – Nadiya Hussain is now a TV star in her own right, recently fronting her own three-part series, The Chronicles Of Nadiya, and making regular appearances on The One Show. She has published two books – Nadiya’s Kitchen and Nadiya’s Bake Me A Story. Buckingham Palace chose her to bake the Queen’s 90th birthday cake.
Berry told Chris Evans on BBC Radio 2 that she will work with Giedroyc and Perkins again – joking that a future project could involve gardening.
She said: “We have made no decisions whatsoever, we haven’t actually all three got together, but we will do something because we’re good pals, and who knows what it would be?
“Well, it may not be baking, you never know, it could be gardening. I’m a very keen gardener, you know.”
Programme makers Love Productions are yet to reveal who else will front the show alongside Hollywood.
The Great British Bake Off started on BBC Two in 2010 before switching to BBC One in 2014.
Last year’s final, won by Nadiya Hussain, was the UK’s most watched television programme of 2015.