After 10 weeks of pastries, pies and the odd soggy bottom, Birmingham's Bake Off finalist Brendan Lynch is putting his feet up. But not before he shows off his talents to Mary Griffin.
"Welcome!" beams Brendan Lynch, front door in one hand, labradoodle in the other.
Dressed in a well-worn black apron, he looks somewhere between a chef and a craftsman, introducing me to 17-month-old Monty, a soft Australian labrador-poodle cross, before leading the way to the kitchen where the oven is already warming.
Today Brendan, made famous by his culinary talents on BBC 2's Great British Bake Off, is baking a Sicilian orange cake at his home in Wylde Green, Sutton Coldfield. His home is pretty much exactly what Bake Off viewers might imagine - a neat but warm detached house midway down a long tree-lined road, with well tended front and back gardens and a well stocked wine rack.
Brendan's surroundings seem to reflect his character - focused and hard-working, confident and competent, practised and prepared.
But after a whole series of technically excellent baking and week-on-week consistency, could it be these personality traits that cost Brendan the chance to be crowned Bake Off winner?
"I don't think I was prejudiced against at all," he says.
"Are they looking for the best baker? Well, that's the whole raison d'etre... but I suppose personalities are going to play a part.
"Some of the contestants were very 'tellygenic'.
"I don't think I'm naturally a TV person."
Many of the Bake Off's four million viewers would agree. The internet is peppered with forums and comment threads brimming with viewers crediting Brendan's technical excellence, many naming him as the series' best baker.
But many of these compliments are followed by viewers confessing they prefer the drive and drama of surprise winner 23-year-old John Whaite, or the risky creativity of fellow finalist baker 21-year-old James Morton.
In comparison, Brendan's polished performances and calm, experienced outlook just couldn't cut the mustard. But he admits he was surprised to hear the final result.
"Yes, I was expecting to win," he says looking out across the garden.
"From the beginning I was set on getting to the final and once I'd got there I knew there was a track record and a good body of work supporting me.
"So there was definitely disappointment.
"I was a bit puzzled by the result. It just wasn't expected."
Despite coming second, Brendan reveals he very nearly didn't enter the competition at all, describing himself as "a very reluctant contender" who was given a supportive push by friends, neighbours and his partner, Jason.
"I thought I was too old," he says, raising his voice as he blitzes a bowl of whole boiled oranges and their Sicilian scent fills the room.
"There have been people in their 50s before but I'm 63 now so I thought perhaps it was too late.
"Actually it worked out well on the show.
"As an older baker, a lot of the other contestants turned to me for advice."
Filmed between April and June, the show's gruelling timetable demands contestants are driven from their Bristol hotel to the Bake Off tent in Somerset at 6am to film all day on Saturdays, not getting back until 8.30pm, and returning for the same schedule the next day (dressed in the same clothes for continuity).
Each weekend's 24 hours' of filming is then reduced down to make the weekly one-hour show.
"So I'm standing here at my work station," says Brendan, gripping his kitchen worktop, "and there are up to 60 people running about around me. It's very distracting.
"There's a camera here beside me, a camera overhead and masses of people swarming around.
"It is exhausting. By the time we'd reached the eighth week we were physically and mentally drained."
As a youngster, growing up in Kells, 30 miles from Dublin, Brendan didn't have bakers around to inspire or advise him.
He says: "People always ask me, do I have recipes from my mum, but I was one of eight children and my mother died when I was eight years old."
The second youngest in the family, Brendan remembers his sisters stepping into the role of cook after their mother died - with mixed results.
"My sisters did the best they could with what was available," he says diplomatically, lifting a whisk from a smooth mix of pureed orange, beaten eggs, ground almonds and sugar.
"I remember when I was 11 or 12 I decided to make an apple tart.
"I had no cookery books and I didn't know what pastry was.
"I got some flour and water and made a dough. I rolled it out into a circle with a milk bottle.
"I cut up some apples and put sugar on them and rolled out another circle of dough on top and put them together."
He laughs: "It must have tasted disgusting! My first attempt.
"I don't know where it came from or what the inspiration was but it was very quickly stamped out.
"I lived in a very traditional Catholic farming area and I was told by my father 'Boys don't do that. That's girls' work. Go out and dig something.'
"There are touches of Billy Elliot here!" he smiles.
"Try announcing in that environment 'I want to be a ballet dancer' and see what happens."
So how would a boy announce he was gay?
"You didn't cook and you certainly didn't come out!" he replies. "The main idea was to have as many children as you can.
"But at that point I didn't understand what being "gay" was. There was no local Stonewall or annual Pride festival.
"You just kept discreet and quiet about it.
"I started to adjust to that when I came to this country in my 20s.
''You can't live a lie," he says as he places the cake tin into the hot oven.
Around the same time, Brendan returned to baking, teaching himself from a Raymond Blanc cookery book and even calling Raymond at Le Manoir to ask for tips. His father died before seeing his son's flair with food.
Brendan has developed a loyal fan club during the airing of the series, gaining 14,000 Twitter followers since opening an account eight weeks ago.
He's also had a lot of attention from fans in Ireland, who are eagerly awaiting the launch of the Great Irish Bake Off.
And now the show's over he's considering the prospect of a cook book but gets most excited when he talks about visiting local schools and other community-minded schemes, including his own plan to teach bakery to residents of retirement homes.
Whatever comes next, Brendan, the archetypal life-long learner, will not get bored.
Chasing his dream of joining a string quartet, Brendan took up cello lessons.
Two years ago, aged 61, he passed grade eight.
Wanting to transform his garden into something special, he began reading gardening books.
He completely remodelled the space into a rich garden bursting with greenery and living archways, and studded with 10 birdboxes of various shapes, sizes and colours (including a bright blue one which inspired the gingerbread house with the controversial Shredded Wheat roof).
There are even giant empty picture frames which Brendan moves around the garden to show off his ever-changing "plant of the week", he explains with a sheepish grin.
The BBC has previously broadcast from his garden, which has raised money for Macmillan with public visits, and Brendan has designed 40 more gardens for friends and neighbours, all while working as a recruitment consultant.
This man does not do things by half.
On the kitchen table lies a plate of mint leaves which Brendan has delicately crystallised in sugar to sit alongside orange segments upon the finished cake.
He may not have been the most popular personality of the series but in person it's impossible not to warm to Brendan.
Listening to him talk about any of the things he feels passionately about - baking, retirement homes, the cello, the garden, Jason, international affairs, Birmingham, Ireland - is enough to leave anyone feeling inspired and full of admiration.
He has a stoic dedication to getting absolutely all he can out of life. He says: "You wake up one morning and find you're 50 and you wonder, where has it gone?
"It's all relative and it's all in here," he says tapping his fingers on his temple.
"But beyond the 40s it does accelerate.
"So I very much live in the moment and I'm trying to get two years' worth into every year. I will not be found sitting passively in an armchair idling away."
RECIPE: Brendan's Orange & Almond Cake
Taken from Claudia Roden's 1968 publication A Book of Middle Eastern Food
250g ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder
1 knob of butter and sprinkling of flour for the cake tin
1. Wash the oranges and boil, unpeeled, in enough water to cover for 90 minutes or until very soft. Let them cool, then cut them into quarters, remove the pips and puree them in a food processor.
2. Preheat oven to 190C.
3. Beat the eggs in a large bowl. Fold in all the other ingredients, mixing lightly with a whisk, and pour into a buttered and floured cake tin.
4. Bake for at least one hour. If it is still very wet leave it to bake for a little longer.
5. Cool the cake in the tin before turning out and decorate with orange segments and crystallised mint leaves.