CBE for Berry is icing on cake

The doyen of British baking Mary Berry has received the icing on the cake in the form of a CBE awarded by the Prince of Wales.

The much-loved cookery writer said she was "immensely honoured" to receive the accolade that marked a career writing recipes and preparing meals for the nation for more than 40 years.

Prince Charles hosted the investiture ceremony at Windsor Castle in place of the Queen who pulled out to rest a sore back as she would have been standing for the hour-long event.

Mrs Berry said she was pleased to meet the Prince for the first time: "This is a lovely finale to the year and I'm immensely honoured and proud to be here but I could not have done it without the support of my family and friends."

She has become a household name to a new generation of cake lovers thanks to her role as a judge, alongside Paul Hollywood, in the BBC's popular show The Great British Bake Off.

The highly anticipated series final will be broadcast next Tuesday when remaining contestants John Whaite, Brendan Lynch and James Morton battle it out for the title.

Asked about the show's appeal, she said: "This is not a hyped-up programme. It's totally sincere. We aim to get people baking and to enjoy it and to further their skills. It's very tough but they are friendly to each other and we encourage them, we don't want to make them cry.

"I think the audience enjoy it because it's fun, and they get attached to the characters who, although they are competing and dying to win, they still help the person next to them and borrowing spoons and things."

As a child Mrs Berry was not academically gifted but in domestic science lessons she discovered her love of cooking and pursued it as a career. After studying cooking in France and the UK she worked for a number of food industry bodies and got her big break when she stepped in to write the recipe pages of Housewife magazine when its cookery editor was away.

Her first cookbook, The Hamlyn All Colour Cookbook, was published in 1970 and she has gone on to write more than 50 others which have sold millions around the world Regular appearances on television and radio followed and she has remained a favourite with audiences down the decades.