Roasted Barley Fennel and Ginger Latte

There’s a contest in my city to find a new “winter signature drink” every year. They have an alcohol and non-alcoholic category. I decided to enter in the non-alcoholic category.

I thought about flavours that represent where I live and the culture around me and the comfort of winter. Winter is about finding comfort in warm kitchens and nostalgic flavours. I thought of the Japanese drink, mugicha, a roasted barley tea because there’s a great heritage grain farmer nearby from where I get all of my grains and his barley is perfect for mugicha.

I roasted not only barley, but tried roasting buckwheat groats in the same way. Both are great for different reasons. Much like dealing with coffee beans from different regions, different grains, when roasted, have unique flavour profiles. Buckwheat is mild and sweet while barley is bolder with a deeper, earthy flavour.

To the roasted barley, I added ginger, a flavour that represents the most comfortable part of winter, Christmas. I also added fennel to give a hint of the bright flavours of summer and bridge the two seasons into one happy drink.

The flavoured syrups and roasted grain can be done in steps so you don’t have to do it all at once. The roasted grains are fun to do. The shaking and stirring makes a crazy rattling that is an event in itself!!

So here’s the recipe and if you feel like taking a look at the voting, it’s open to anyone with a Facebook account, click here. (I gave it the funky name SO-BAng Good Latte to represent soba or buckwheat 😉 )

Roasted Barley Fennel and Ginger Latte (SO-BAng Good Latte)

For the Roasted Grain:

1 cup unhulled Gold Forest Grain barley (or buckwheat groats)

   Place a wok over medium heat. Add the barley and roast with occasional stirring and shaking of the wok over the course of 7-10 minutes. After 7 minutes, the grain will be lightly golden (think blond roast coffee) while after 10 minutes the grain will be deeply golden brown. Set aside.

For the Fennel Syrup:

1 cup water
1 cup white sugar
2 Tbsp fennel seeds

   In a small pot, add the water and sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. When the sugar has dissolved and the syrup has come to a simmer, add the fennel seeds, cover loosely with a lid, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 12-15 minutes. Strain, reserving the liquid and set aside.

For the Spiced Ginger Syrup:

4 cups water
1-1/4 cups fresh ginger root, peeled and thickly sliced
2 cinnamon sticks
8-10 whole cloves
Zest of 1 lemon, peeled with a vegetable peeler into long strips
1 cup sugar

   In a medium saucepan, add the water, ginger, cinnamon, cloves and lemon zest. Bring to a gentle boil over medium high heat, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer for 20 minutes. Take off the heat and allow to steep for 5 minutes. Strain away the solid components, reserving the liquid. Stir in the sugar until it is dissolved. Set aside.

To serve:

1 cup milk
1/4 cup Fennel Syrup
1 Tbsp Spiced Ginger Syrup
2 Tbsp Roasted Grain

   Add the milk, Fennel Syrup and Spiced Ginger Syrup to a small saucepan over medium heat. Using a thermometer, heat the mixture to 80C/190F. Take off the heat, add the Roasted Grain and steep for 5 minutes. Strain. Check the heat with a thermometer. If it is below 65C/150F, put it back on the stove on medium heat. Return the temperature to 65C/150F. Froth the milk with a hand blender, ensuring there is a lot of fine-bubbled foam. Fill a mug 3/4 full of the flavoured milk. Fill the rest of the mug with frothy foam to represent heaping snowbanks!!

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And if you don’t feel like a hot beverage, substitute the milk with water, don’t froth anything (because there’s nothing to froth) and serve it over ice! It’s a battle over which way is better. I love both the hot and cold versions!!

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