But the 60-year-old admitted that she had doubts about whether she would be able to deal with the added pressure of the contest’s climax.
She said: “There is nothing so scary as the final, and I didn’t know if I would be able to cope with it, but I was fine. I have never been tested to that extent, or had that pressure before, but I realised I could be pretty stoic about it all. Earlier on in the series I hadn’t even realised that I had said ‘You can’t go forward if you are looking backward’ until I saw it on TV.
“I had watched the programme before but didn’t realise how big the show is. 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.
“It carries such a great feeling when the judges say your bake is perfect, it gives you confidence and a terrific buzz.”
Birtwhistle, who showed herself to be a no-nonsense contestant who made her views known to the judges, went on: “What I enjoy doing is teaching people how to make pastry, and it really is easy, so I would like to share some of what I know.
“You learn all these skills through your life and you have to pass them on.”