How to Make It
In a nonreactive saucepan, combine 1 1/4 cups sugar and 1/4 cup sifted cornstarch. Stir in 1 1/4 pounds fresh or frozen pitted sour cherries and let stand until soupy, about 15 minutes. Cook over moderate heat, stirring, until thickened, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in 3 tablespoons unsalted butter and 1 teaspoon almond extract and let cool.
Preheat the oven to 450°. in a bowl, mix 2 cups all-purpose flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cut in 3/4 cup vegetable shortening or lard until the mixture resembles small peas. Stir in 4 to 5 tablespoons ice water until the dough forms a ball. Divide the dough in half and pat each half out to a 6-inch disk.
Lightly flour the disks and place each between 2 sheets of wax paper. Roll out 1 disk to a 10-inch round. Peel off the top sheet of paper and invert the dough into an 8-inch pie dish. Peel off the paper and fit the dough into the dish. Roll out the remaining disk, remove the paper and cut a few slits in the center to vent steam.
Pour the filling into the pie dish. Wet the rim of the bottom crust; top with the vented crust. Trim and crimp the edge. Bake for 15 minutes. Lower the temperature to 400° and bake for about 40 minutes, or until the crust is golden; let cool.