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