The Great Australian Bake Off

Let your baking skills take flight with this jaw dropping choux and nougatine crafted cockatoo.


  • Lemon myrtle marzipan

  • 185g almond meal

  • 225g pure icing sugar

  • 1-2 tsp lemon myrtle powder (dried)

  • 1 egg white

  • Brown gel colour

  • Modelling chocolate (for cockatoo’s head, beak, eyes, gum leaves and gumnuts)

  • 285g white chocolate

  • 80ml light corn syrup (1/3 cup)

  • Black velvet, chocolate food colour

  • Romance red, chocolate food colour

  • Green with envy, chocolate food colour

  • Pretty in blue, chocolate food colour

  • Dark gold food paint

  • Gun metal edible dust

  • Choux pastry log and cockatoo body (flavours are vanilla, lemon myrtle, and chocolate) – double batch makes about 50 round puffs

  • 250ml water

  • 250ml milk

  • 200g unsalted butter

  • ½ tsp salt

  • 1 tsp caster sugar

  • 300g plain flour

  • 8 eggs

  • Plus 1 x half batch

  • 125ml water

  • 125ml milk

  • 100g unsalted butter

  • ¼ tsp salt

  • ½ tsp caster sugar

  • 150g plain flour

  • 4 eggs

  • 11-12 puffs are needed per log layer of chocolate, lemon myrtle and vanilla flavor large puffs.

  • 15-20 small pearl sugar puffs for cockatoo body

  • Fillings for choux pastry

  • Crème patisserie (make 1-2 batches)

  • 200g caster sugar

  • 8 egg yolks

  • 100g cornflour

  • 2 tsp vanilla bean paste

  • 1000ml milk

  • Chocolate pastry cream

  • 500g cream patisserie

  • 125 g dark chocolate calletts

  • 200ml milk

  • Vanilla pastry cream

  • 500g crème patisserie

  • 150g mascarpone

  • Toppings for choux pastry

  • Sablé tops for vanilla choux and lemon myrtle choux

  • 100g unsalted butter, chilled and cubed

  • 120g cake flour

  • 125g caster sugar

  • ¼ tsp vanilla extract

  • ½ tsp lemon myrtle powder

  • Pinch salt

  • Leaf green food colour gel

  • Sablé top for chocolate choux

  • 1 tbsp cocoa, Dutch process

  • 100g butter

  • 100g cake flour

  • 125g caster sugar

  • pinch salt

  • Process as above

  • Nougatine (for log layers, wings, head and tail base as well as central support for cockatoo, and support for internal of log)

  • Almond and sunflower nougatine (for log layers)

  • 300g flaked almonds

  • 150g sunflower seeds

  • 300g caster sugar

  • 150ml water

  • 150g liquid glucose

  • Almond nougatine (for head, wings and tail, central support column)

  • 300 g finely flaked blanched almonds

  • 200g caster sugar

  • 100ml water

  • 100g liquid glucose

  • 2 packets Rice paper (wafer paper) - to make feathers for tail and body

  • Spun Sugar (for cockatoo’s nest)

  • 250g caster sugar

  • 50g glucose syrup

  • 75ml water

  • Toffee to join choux pastry buns

  • 750g caster sugar

  • 100 - 125g liquid glucose

  • 200ml water

  • Isomalt for cockatoo’s comb

  • 400g isomalt powder

  • yellow gel colour – egg yellow Americolour


  • For lemon myrtle marzipan:

  • 1.

    Whiz icing sugar and almonds in a food processor with lemon myrtle until fine.

  • 2.

    Add egg white to form a paste. Store in glad wrap until ready to use.

  • 3.

    When ready roll out and cut a circle smaller than the top disc of nougatine. Paint tree rings on the top using diluted brown gel colour (use alcohol or decorator’s solvent) and place on the nougatine disc. Secure with some sugar glue or a 50:50 sugar and water syrup.

  • For the choux pastry:

  • 1.

    Preheat the oven to 200°C.

  • Make sablé tops:

  • 1.

    For each flavour put dry ingredients in food processor. Blitz. Add butter and vanilla. Pulse until it just comes together. For the vanilla sable roll half of the plain dough out thinly between two sheets of baking paper and chill. The dough should be about as thick as a 20c piece. Colour other half green and stir in a ½ teaspoon of lemon verbena or to taste. Roll out between two pieces of baking paper as above. Chill in the fridge until the dough firms up. Cut out 3cm circles in both doughs to match the choux buns. Place on the piped balls of choux dough just before baking. Repeat for chocolate short crust sable dough.

  • For choux pastry:

  • 1.

    Heat milk, water, sugar, salt and butter in a saucepan. Melt over gentle heat, and bring to boil. Boil for a minute.

  • 2.

    Take off the heat. Dump in all the flour at once and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until a smooth ball. Return to low heat and cook for a minute until it has pulled away from the sides of the saucepan.

  • 3.

    Move to a mixing bowl and add the eggs one by one, incorporating one egg before adding the other.

  • 4.

    Place the batter in a piping bag with a large round hole (10mm). Pipe even sized round balls on a tray lined with baking paper.

  • 5.

    Stick down edges of baking paper with some choux batter. Place and even number of sablé discs on top of choux buns (1/3 of each flavor). Bake 10-20 minutes until crisp and golden and puffed up. Check that they do not become too dark and turn down heat half way through accordingly to 180°C. After cooking time turn down heat to 140-160°C and allow choux puffs to dry out. Check that they do not burn. Makes about 50 puffs.

  • 6.

    Make the smaller batch of choux mixture. Set aside some of the choux mixture and place into a bag with a piping nozzle with a small round hole. Pipe out foot shapes and two sides of comb shape as well as tree branches for the side of the log. Pipe out a spare foot and comb shape for breakages. Use rest of the choux pastry to pipe out about 20-25 very small choux balls for the cockatoo’s body. Generously top each choux ball with pearl sugar. Bake as above but for 10-20 minutes, and turn down the oven earlier (i.e. after 5-10 minutes) as needed to prevent the puffs getting too browned. Turn off oven to dry out the choux puffs as above. The piped decorations will brown very quickly so take these out once brown and make sure they are piped onto a separate tray.

  • For the crème patisserie:

  • 1.

    Pour milk and cream and vanilla into a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk egg yolks and sugar in a bowl until creamy. Whisk in the cornflour. When milk is hot, pour over egg mixture whisking all the time then return to saucepan and bring to boil, stirring to avoid lumps. When thick, move to a sink of cold water to cool down.

  • For the chocolate version:

  • 1.

    Heat milk, pour over chocolate in a bowl. Allow to melt then mix until smooth. Mix into pastry cream and then chill for around 30 minutes. Custard can be spread flat to speed up the chilling process.

  • For vanilla:

  • 1.

    Beat cooled custard together with mascarpone. Chill.

  • For the almond/sunflower nougatine:

  • 1.

    Heat the oven to 180°C.

  • 2.

    Spread the nuts on a tray and toast them lightly in the oven for about 10 minutes. Don’t toast the sunflower seeds, these are added later.

  • 3.

    Make a medium amber coloured caramel by placing the water, sugar and glucose syrup in a pot, then heating it over medium heat until it boils steadily. Swill from time to time to distribute the toffee but do not stir it.

  • 4.

    Add nuts and seeds and combine quickly and well before emptying a third onto a silicon mat or siliconized baking paper. Place other 2/3rds on a baking paper lined tray in a warm 150°C oven to keep soft.

  • 5.

    Top nougatine with another piece of baking paper and roll out quickly to a thin sheet.

  • 6.

    Mark in an 8-inch circle on the nougatine using a cake tin then cut out quickly with scissors.

  • 7.

    Repeat for other 2 thirds of nougatine so that you have three discs.

  • 8.

    Allow to set hard.

  • For the almond nougatine:

  • 1.

    Prepare as above. Empty onto a baking paper lined tray and place in empty oven to keep warm. Take off some nougatine and roll it out between two sheets of baking paper. Cut out two circles for the head and quickly shape into two greased half sphere molds. Smooth into half spheres. When hard join together to form a head using toffee.

  • 2.

    Cut out two wings, one central body piece and a tail piece. (using the template). Allow to harden.

  • 3.

    Cut out two lots of three squares/rectangles to use as central log supports, with a height matching the height of the top of the choux buns. Extra pieces of nougatine can be stacked on top. Join to a triangle with toffee.

  • To assemble choux puffs:

  • 1.

    Fill choux puffs prior to assembly by placing filling in a piping bag fitted with a round metal nozzle – 5mm and piping in custard. Use vanilla for the vanilla and lemon myrtle flavours, chocolate for the chocolate sable choux. Assemble with prepared toffee to stick together.

  • For the toffee:

  • 1.

    Put water and sugar in a saucepan, swill it around gently then bring it up to boiling point before adding the warmed glucose syrup. Boil it over medium heat until you have a rich medium honey caramel colour. Dip the filled choux buns and cockatoo parts into the toffee to stick them together as per the assembly instructions. Rewarm the toffee if it begins to harden. It will need to be ready for a good period whilst the structure is being assembled.

  • For the log:

  • 1.

    Place a sunflower nougatine disc on the serving board. Place a roll of acetate in the centre as a support or use a clear food grade plastic cylinder or use three pieces of nougatine in a triangle, joined with toffee (time permitting).

  • 2.

    Arrange alternating chocolate, lemon and vanilla puffs in two layers, staggering upper layer. Top with second sunflower nougatine disc. Stack two rows of puffs again with acetate, support or nougatine in the centre.

  • 3.

    Top with third sunflower nougatine disc.

  • For the cockatoo:

  • 1.

    Stick body support of cockatoo on the edge of the nougatine using toffee. Stick tail support on the edge, perpendicular to the body support, hanging over the log, also using toffee.

  • 2.

    Stick marzipan on top disc with sugar syrup or glue, and cut a slot to accommodate body support.

  • 3.

    Stick pearl sugar puffs to form the cockatoos body using toffee. Stick some to the nougatine body support.

  • 4.

    Attach feet to the front, wings to each side using toffee and head on top with toffee.

  • 5.

    Make sure pearl sugar is toward the outside.

  • 6.

    Decorate head with modelling chocolate (see below) before placing on the top of the cockatoo’s body.

  • 7.

    Stick two choux pastry crest pieces either side on top of cockatoo’s head. Leave a small gap in the middle for the isomalt crest portion.

  • 8.

    Stick choux tree branches around log using toffee.

  • Chocolate modelling paste:

  • 1.

    Melt chocolate. Cool slightly.

  • 2.

    Slowly stir in corn syrup until thick and all the chocolate is mixed in knead until smooth on the bench.

  • 3.

    Add more corn syrup if too stiff. Wrap in glad wrap and sit for 30 minutes before using.

  • 4.

    Roll out and cut white circles to mold onto each side of the nougatine sphere (make them slightly smaller than each sphere half). Colour a ball of paste black and create beak top and bottom. Allow to harden. Secure onto front of cockatoo’s head. Dust with gun metal lustre dust.

  • 5.

    Roll out two small white balls for eyes. Roll out two smaller black balls for eyeballs and place on eyes. Secure onto each side of head. Colour some modelling paste green and roll out. Cut into gum leaf shapes using a sharp knife or an X-ACTO blade. Mark a line down the middle. Use some green paste to model gumnuts. Paint some rice paper red with chocolate paint. Cut thin fronds to place in the middle of the gumnuts. Stick these around the log and branches in decorative fashion. Colour some modelling chocolate light blue and formed into egg shapes. Flick on some dark gold food paint to make speckles on the eggs. By the way, cockatoos don’t have blue eggs, I just like blue eggs – they can be left white (like they’re supposed to be) if you want to be biologically correct.

  • For the isomalt crest:

  • 1.

    Melt isomalt in a saucepan. Add yellow colour. When a honey consistency, use a spoon to brush crest shapes onto a piece of baking paper, making them longer and curved forward on the front, and shorter at the back. Make sure they sit beyond the choux pastry combs. Set. Arrange isomalt on top of cockatoo’s head sphere to form the crest, sticking pieces with melted isomalt (reheating as necessary). Note if the weather is humid, the isomalt is a more stable option to spin sugar for the nest.

  • Rice paper feathers and flowers:

  • 1.

    Rip feather shapes and attach to tail, wings and back of cockatoo with sugar glue and toffee.

  • For the spun sugar (prepare last for cockatoo’s nest):

  • 1.

    Put water, caster sugar and glucose syrup in a saucepan. The glucose syrup can be microwaved briefly first so that it is easier to measure out. Swill the mixture together and then heat it over medium heat to 145-150°C without stirring it. When it starts to caramelize, the pot can be swilled during this process gently to distribute the coloured toffee more evenly. Any sugar can be brushed off the sides with a wet pastry brush to stop the mixture crystallizing. Take the mixture off the heat when it reaches the right temperature and allow it to cool until a fork dipped in starts to leave strands of toffee rather than dripping off. Place a whisk tool in the toffee and pull off strands of sugar. Use a flicking motion over some wooden spoons stuck to the bench to create spun sugar. Gather up and shape. If syrup goes hard, re-melt over medium heat. Alternatively, use a gloved hand to gather strands as they fall and spin around into a nest shape. Make a decent stack of spun sugar to allow for melting as it sits.

  • 2.

    Fill with eggs made of modelling chocolate.

  • Assembly summary::

  • 1.

    Fill choux buns.

  • 2.

    Make cockatoo’s head by joining nougatine spheres and adding modelling chocolate face and beak.

  • 3.

    Stick nougatine with choux pastry (filled with custard flavours) using toffee.

  • 4.

    Stick nougatine body support on top of uppermost log disc as well as tail piece.

  • 5.

    Place disc of marzipan on top of stack and paint with food colour in rings.

  • 6.

    Assemble nougatine and choux for cockatoo’s body on the top most stack – including head, feet, wings and crest.

  • 7.

    Stick rice paper feathers onto wings, tail and back.

  • 8.

    Stick on isomalt comb on top of head.

  • Arrange choux twigs around log and stick with toffee:

  • 1.

    Arrange leaves and gumnuts around log and choux branches.

  • 2.

    Make modelling chocolate eggs.

  • 3.

    Make spun sugar nest last and place at the base of the log. Place eggs in the nest.


*This recipe has not been edited or tested by the Bake Off Food Department

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