My birthday falls just after the 4th of July, which means that I grew up with a generous amount of fanfare around my birthday, all of which I assumed was meant just for me. In addition to a pool party with my friends, my grandma would make me my very own blueberry mountain pie. This pie, a cake batter poured on top of pints of fresh blueberries, was her specialty. Served hot with cold vanilla ice cream it is still my favorite dessert to serve on my birthday, a true family favorite.
The family story goes that my Aunt Jinx served a mountain pie to my great grandmother, Sybil, while Jinx was living in Tennessee and the recipe made such an impact that Sybil brought it home and it spread like wildfire through the family. By the time I came along years later it was a family staple. It occurred to me recently that a mountain pie is the very (very) close cousin of the sonker, a Western North Carolina (Surry and Wilkes counties to be specific) specialty.
What makes a sonker lovely is the combination of bubbling fresh fruit (or sweet potato) and cakey topping. The sonker variation I grew up on calls for the topping to be poured into the blueberries, allowing it to bubble up and through. In other variations a thicker dough is rolled out and made into a lattice top, similar to a traditional cobbler. Still others call for a top and bottom dough, edging closer and closer into “pie” territory. No matter the distribution of the crust the effect is still the same- browned and bubbling fruit, sweet and tart, with crust toasted the perfect shade of brown.
2 pints fresh blueberries
1 stick butter
1 cup flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Juice of 1 lemon
Preheat oven to 400F. Melt butter and mix with blueberries, along with lemon juice. Transfer into a 9×9 baking dish.
Mix together sugar, flour, milk, egg, and vanilla extract. Stir to incorporate and pour over blueberries. Don’t mix the blueberries and the batter together!
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until bubbling and browned. Serve hot with vanilla ice cream.