Builder Richard Burr is heading into the final as the hottest favourite yet for The Great British Bake Off.

The 37-year-old – a familiar sight with his pencil tucked behind his ear – is hotly tipped to triumph after collecting the star baker accolade an unmatched five times so far this series.

Bookmaker William Hill has put him at evens – the shortest ever price to win the series since the show began five years ago.

Hill’s spokesman Joe Crilly said: “Richard has impressed us the most this season without even the hint of a soggy bottom in sight.”

He faces Nancy Birtwhistle, 60, and Luis Troyano, 42, as the series reaches its climax. Judges Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry have repeatedly said the standard of baking is the highest it has ever been as they wrestle with tough decisions about who to send home from the marquee each week.

The series, which transferred to BBC One this year from BBC Two, has grown to a new level of popularity as it boosted its audience to draw around nine million regularly and is now one of the channel’s biggest shows.

Last week’s semi-final drew an average of 8.8 million, which is on a par with the audience for entertainment hit Strictly Come Dancing.

For their challenges in The Great British Bake Off final, the trio – whittled down from the 12 who started – will have to serve up a showstopper featuring a perfect sponge, caramel, choux pastry and petit four in the space of five hours.

They also have to tackle a signature challenge in which they have just three hours to work on a classic pastry which normally takes a day, and for the technical task they are pushed to the limit working without a recipe.

Success in The Great British Bake Off could mean turning their passion for pastry into a career, with spin-off books and commissions like past contestants.