Fresh Plum Sonker
Nancie McDermott is making a mouth-watering cobbler pie and pairing it with a vanilla milk dip.

Ingredients fro Fresh Plump Filling

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 9 cups big chunks of ripe plums (about 3 ¾ pounds)
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted (1 stick)
  • 1/3 cup water

Ingredients for Milk Dip Ingredients

  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Ingredients for Sonker Pastry

  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, very cold
  • 1/2 cup vegetable shortening, very cold
  • 1/2 cup to 3/4 cups ice water

Plum Sonker - Home & Family

Directions for Filling

1. For the piecrust, drape one of the three circles of pastry dough over half of a 13- by 9-inch baking pan, tucking it into the corners. Trim away excess dough, and use it,along with the second circle of pastry dough, to piece and patch together a complete pastry lining of the rectangular pan. Press gently to seal up any seams, and extend the edges of the pastry dough 1 inch beyond the rim of the baking pan.
2. Cut the remaining circle of pastry dough into long strips 1-inch wide. (To make a criss-cross pattern on top of the sonker, you will need about six 14-inch-long strips, and about twelve 10-inch long strips. Don’t worry about perfection --- you can piece together strips of dough as you go along to get enough strips to arrange over the fruit filling. Set pastry-lined pan and dough strips aside while you prepare the filling. (You may have some extra dough. If so, simply wrap it airtight and place in the freezer for your next sonker or pie.)
3. Heat the oven to 450 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt. Use a fork to stir everything together well. Add the chopped plums and toss gently, using your hands or two big spoons, until the fruit is evenly coated with the sugar mixture.
4. Pour the filling into the pan and spread it out into an even layer. Pour the melted butter and the 1/3 cup water evenly over the plums.
5. For a double-crust sonker, roll the remaining pastry into a rectangle and use it to cover the filling. Trim it and fold the sides of the crust over its edge, as you would a standard double-crust pie, crimping the edges attractively and cutting vents into the top of the pie to allow steam and syrupy filling to be released as it bakes.
6. Or make an easy lattice crust, laying strips of pastry in one direction and then the other direction, to cover the filling while leaving space for it to show through.
7. Carefully arrange the six longer pastry strips on top of the peaches, placing them evenly along the length of the pan, so that the filling shows through. Place the 12 shorter pastry strips at right angles to the long strips, arranging them along the width of the pan, to make a criss-cross pattern. (Or place the strips at an angle, to make a diamond-shaped grid rather than a square one.)
8. Press the end of each pastry strip firmly against the side of the pan, so that it sticks to the crust. Then fold the top edge of the pastry down and over the sealed strips, pressing it against the pastry-lined sides of the pan, going all the way around the rim of the pan. Crimp this crust edge by pinching it into little points, or press it with the tines of a fork to make a design.
9. Place the sonker on the middle shelf of the 450 degrees F. oven, and bake for 15 minutes. Lower the heat to 350 degrees, and bake until the crust is handsomely and evenly browned, and the filling is bubbling up vigorously, about 45 minutes more.
10. While the sonker bakes, make the Dip. In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and water and stir with a small spoon to mix well. Set aside with spoon handy.
11. In a medium saucepan, stir the sugar, milk, and salt together well. Place the saucepan over medium-high heat, and bring to a gentle boil. As soon as the mixture boils, reduce the heat to maintain a lively simmer and cook to dissolve the sugar, about 1 minute.
12. Stir cornstarch mixture well and then add it to the bubbling hot milk mixture, stirring or whisking to mix well. Cook 1 minute and remove from heat. Stir in vanilla and then pour out ¾ cup of milk dip to pour over the baking sonker. Set aside remaining Dip to cool.
13. When sonker is bubbling and crust is done, remove from oven and pour the reserved Dip all over the top of the sonker. Return to the oven for 5 to 10 minutes more, to absorb the dip.
14. Place the sonker on a cooling rack or a folded kitchen towel and let cool for 30 minutes or more. Serve warm or at room temperature, with Dip on the side, in a pitcher or a serving bowl with a ladle, for pouring over each serving. Or scoop out servings into bowls or onto dessert plates and generously top each serving Dip.

This recipe is adapted from Southern Pies: A Gracious Plenty of Pie Recipes from Lemon Chess to Chocolate Pecan, by Nancie McDermott (Chronicle Books) Copyright 2018 Nancie McDermott. All rights reserved.

Directions for Sonker Pastry Recipe

This recipe makes a big batch, enough pastry for a sonker, which is a great big deep dish cobbler, made in a 13 x 9 inch pan lined with pastry AND topped with a full crust or a lattice crust. That means three single-crust pastry rounds, or enough for a double crust pie and a single crust pie. I revised my double-crust recipe and it came out wonderfully. This recipe is written for using a food processor, but you could also make this crust by hand. If using the food processor, take a little extra time to pulse at the beginning, working in the butter and shortening, so that it comes together evenly, not too fast and not too slowly. Just right!

1. Pulse flour and salt in a food processor until combined, about 3 or 4 times. Add cubed butter and shortening, and pulse until butter and shortening break down into pea-sized bits and flakes. With machine running, add ½ cup of the ice water. Stop and then pulse 4 times. Add another splash of the ice water and pulse a few times more, until dough just begins to clump together.

2. Spread 2 layers of parchment paper or waxed paper on countertop. Turn piecrust dough out onto paper. Gather edges of paper up and use them to pull dough into a big lump. Open paper and divide the lump in two parts. Make one part about 2/3 of the pastry and the other part about 1/3 of the pastry. Wrap each half in plastic and gently shape into a flat plump disk. Chill 2 hours or up to 2 days.

To roll out pastry dough for a sonker:

3. Roll out the big portion of the dough and fit it into a 13 x 9 inch pan, leaving a nice ½ inch to an inch extending above the fruit-line, so you can fold it back down to complete the crust once you add the fruit filling. Set aside any remaining crust to use on top of the sonker. If you need more, simply roll out more and piece it together.

4. After you prepare the fruit filling and fill the pie crust in the big pan, roll out remaining dough. Make a sheet for a full top crust, or make big long 1-inch-wide strips to arrange over the top in a criss-cross easy lattice or full lattice top. Follow directions on these on the sonker recipe.

To roll out this pastry for a standard piecrust:
(You will have enough to make three single crust pies, or one double crust and one single crust pie.)

5. To bake a pie, place one lump of the chilled dough on a floured surface. You will need about 1/3 of the total recipe amount for a single pie crust. Dust a rolling pin with flour, and roll out the piecrust. Starting from the center, roll outward, up and down, and on the diagonal, stopping to move the crust clockwise as you roll, so that it doesn’t stick to the surface. Add more flour as needed and keep moving around the crust to make a big circle.

6. For a single crust: When the crust is at least an inch larger than the rim of the pie pan, gently roll it onto your rolling pin and transfer it to the pie pan. Unroll it to line the pan, moving it around gently, to center it with even edges. Trim edges to 1 inch from the edge of the pan overhang. Push and tuck gently to place the pastry --- avoid stretching and pulling it to make it fit. If time, chill the pastry lined pie pan for an hour or longer. When ready to bake, fill the crust, and bake as directed in your pie recipe.

7. For a double crust pie, fill the pie crust and set aside. Roll out another third of the total pastry recipe, into a big circle large enough to cover the filling and hang over the edges by about 1 inch. Place this top crust over filling, and adjust it to fit evenly over the filling. Trim away excess pie dough around the edges, leaving just enough to tuck under the edges of the bottom crust. Press together to seal this seam of top crust and bottom crust. Press down with the tines of a fork, or pinch and crimp the edge to make a handsome piecrust edge. Slice vents in the top all around to allow steam to escape. Bake as directed in your recipe

This recipe is adapted from Southern Pies: A Gracious Plenty of Pie Recipes from Lemon Chess to Chocolate Pecan, by Nancie McDermott. (Chronicle Cooks) All rights reserved. Visit

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