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It's hard to say where the name "sonker" came from; it's somewhat easier to say what it is.

Sonker is similar to a pot pie or a cobbler. It comes about by blending fruit and unshaped dough, often sweetened with sugar or sourghum cane molasses.

It can be accompanied by a dip (glaze) made of cream, sugar or molasses, and a few drops of vanilla extract. This is usually poured over the sonker in the dish.

Popular fruits used in sonker include: blackberries, peaches, raspberries, huckleberries and apples. Sweet potatoes are also used.

It is believed that folks in Surry County made sonker as a way to stretch the usage of their fruit in tough times, or as a way to utilize fruit that is toward the end of its ripeness.

There is a lot of variance in the crusts. Some recipes call for a pie-like crust, while others call for a bread-crumb topping. Some even make their sonker in a pot on the stove, with a crust that is more akin to dumplings.

In a story in its July 1, 2013, edition, the New York Times described it thusly: "A soupy, deep dish baked dessert of sweet potatoes or fruit topped with a crust or a batter.”

Here's another line from that New York Times article we like to share: "The dessert is baked nowhere else in the nation."

So come to Surry County and taste for yourself. Maybe you'll consider it a cobbler, a pie or perhaps a grunt. Regardless, it's a heavenly slice of rural Americana that is worthy of a try!


 
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