Ulsterman Andrew Smyth has lost out on the top spot in the Great British Bake Off final, as Candice Brown was named winner.
The PE teacher, 31, took the title ahead of rivals Jane Beedle and Co Down man Mr Smyth, saying it was the biggest moment of her life so far.
Smyth told her: “You deserved it, well, well done”.
The final marked the last time Mary Berry will serve as a judge and Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins as hosts before judge Paul Hollywood moves with the show to Channel 4.
After the winner was announced at a celebration attended by the family and friends of the three finalists, as well as the other nine bakers knocked out in previous rounds, Brown admitted: “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.”
Of Brown’s triumph, Berry said: ‘Well deserved for her determination and passion, she really has excelled. For her wonderful flavours, and everything always looked gorgeous’.
Hollywood added: “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.”
Brown, Rolls-Royce aerospace engineer Smyth and garden designer Beedle appeared to be neck and neck throughout the final, during which they tackled a showstopper challenge hailed by the hosts as “the biggest ever final challenge in Bake Off history”.
To fit in with the royal theme of the week, to mark the Queen’s 90th birthday, the bakers were tasked with creating a picnic fit for the monarch – one chocolate celebration cake, 12 puff pastry sausage rolls, 12 mini quiches, 12 savoury scones and 12 fruit and custard tarts.
Smyth’s grandmother’s chocolate cake recipe was a hit with the judges, with Hollywood hailing it the “star piece” of the picnic, but his sausage and chorizo jam rolls suffered from raw pastry, his sweet potato, goats cheese and caramelized onion quiches had overworked pastry and his strawberry and pistachio tarts had the dreaded “soggy bottom”.
Beedle’s spread was praised as “right royal and regal” by Berry but she also suffered from raw pastry in her apple and thyme sausage rolls.
Brown’s picnic was universally praised, with even her bacon, mushroom and black pudding sausage rolls getting a seal of approval.
For the earlier signature challenge the bakers tackled filled meringue crowns, made up of three layers.
The pecan praline in the centre of Smyth’s meringue recreation of the Queen’s Jubilee crown was considered too overpowering but Brown’s crown-topped pavlova filled with mango curd was praised for its textures and flavours and earned her a coveted “Hollywood handshake”.
Beedle also earned the rare handshake from the judge for her red, white and blue meringue, which Hollywood described as “three layers of heaven.”
For the technical challenge the bakers were tasked with making a Victoria sandwich cake but given no instructions.
Smyth finished first in the challenge, which was judged blind, with Brown finishing second and Beedle coming third.
After the final Brown revealed she had hidden her winners’ trophy in an antique chest.
She added: “I love baking and this has increased my love of baking. 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?”