I have not done a souffle since my 15-year-old O-level. But here I am on the flagship of P & O, Britannia, in the Ramekins collection, while Pastry Chef Eric Lanlard shows us how to make Applesauce.
While my whisk whistles violently around the mixing bowl, I'm worried that my protein will pass the test of the stiff tip.
The Vanity Fair Magazine is one of the best patissiers in the world. Eric's clientele consists of Madonna, Liz Hurley, Elton John and the late Queen Mother (he created her 101st birthday cake adorned with her beloved corgis).
Celebrity Guests: Britannia, P & O's largest British cruise ship
It was a coup when P & O persuaded him to become ambassador of the two-week Food Heroes Cruises.
The largest British cruise ship Britannia has 25 restaurants, bars and cafes and four night owls. It is also the first British ship to open a cooking school at sea and can accommodate up to 100 students in two weeks. My repertoire at home usually consists of soup and salad. Life is too short to freeze a plate? And I can not help but notice that our class is full of Eric Groupies. A couple takes Polaroids from each stage of their baking preparation for their "Honeymoon Journal."
But Eric could not be warmer. "You can relax, it's not the cumshot," he says.
Today, next to the souffle, we're making gourmet lemon meringue cupcakes and passion fruit and white chocolate cake.
The ship's state-of-the-art club has 12 preparation stations equipped with hobs, KitchenAid mixers and iPads with demonstrations. So we can follow Eric's every move. I'm already at the long table, where we will eat later. And the sea view through the floor-to-ceiling windows is spectacular.
"Cooking at sea feels special," says one of my classmates, "because you're on a" fluctuating "terrain and in a new kitchen."
Eric is a terrific showman. He introduced four television series, including Channel 4's Glamor Puds, and he combines practical tips ("always buy the crumpled passion fruit, they're much juicier") with historical anecdotes. His hero is the French chef Antonin Careme from the 19th century – the first celebrity chef. Careme brought Koch's white and invented the hot casserole that we bake.
Eric explained that cooks then used horrible amounts of sugar as a preservative. Therefore, rich families had dentists on standby to perform tooth extractions.
I interfere with the Italian meringue over my muffins and find that I have a steady hand. Eric browns the meringue ("buy your torch at B & Q"), then decorates it with lemon zest. It looks more like Andy Warhol than Mary Berry, but I'm thrilled.
Yes Boss! Liz Hoggard (above) channels her inner berry
When we sit down to eat our wonies, the group has teamed up. The class also gave us an insight into the challenges of cooking at sea. Britannia's daily food consumption includes 600 dozen eggs, 70 kg butter and 450 l fresh milk. The crew refers to the area where food is transported by truck and bike, "M1".
On the fourth day, the waistbands stretch out. Time to leave the ship. In Alicante we take part in a city of the Moors and try Caldo Gallego (Galician white bean soup). The next day we walk along the Las Ramblas of Barcelona and visit the food market La Boqueria.
Back on board, I relax in my balcony cabin and then book the spa (the Elemis Biotec Facial is the gold standard).
One night, we head to Crow's Nest, Britannia's late-night piano bar, to sample the 20-gins menu (I recommend Anderson's pink botanical tonic), while Eric delights us with celebrity anecdotes ,
Has he ever seen diva behaviors from his cake customers? My lips are sealed.
P & O Cruises offers a 14-day cruise with Britannia (B923) from £ 1,474 per person and starts on August 17, 2019. The rate includes children's clubs, meals and entertainment. Ports of call and return to Southampton are Cadiz, Barcelona, Monte Carlo, Florence and Pisa, Cartagena and Gibraltar (pocruises.com, 03453 555 111).