FRESH SWEET CHERRY (BING OR RAINIER) PIE
one 9-inch diameter pie
Prepare cherries for baking and set aside.
Prepare piecrust and line pie plate with bottom crust.
In a large bowl, combine sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Add cherries, mixing gently to coat cherries. Spoon cherry mixture into the bottom crust. Dot cherry mixture with butter and drizzle almond extract over cherries, if desired.
Cover with top crust, sealing edge of top crust to bottom crust; flute the edge of the piecrust with the thumb and forefinger. Lightly brush the top crust with half-and-half and then sprinkle lightly with sugar, if desired. With a sharp serrated knife, cut five slits in the center of the top crust.
Arrange pie on a baking sheet. Bake, on the center rack, in a preheated hot oven (425 degrees F.) for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to moderate (350 degrees F.) and continue baking for 40 to 50 minutes longer, or until pastry is browned and filling is hot and bubbling. If crust browns too fast, loosely cover pie with a sheet of aluminum foil. Cool pie thoroughly on a baking rack. To serve, cut into wedges. Serve plain or topped with whipped cream, other whipped topping, or ice cream, if desired.
Variation: Reduce cherries to 2 cups and add 2 cups sliced peeled firm ripe peaches or nectarines.
Pastry for Double-Crust Pie
2 cups flour (not sifted)
Sift together the flour and salt into a medium bowl. Cut in shortening with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle cold water, 1 tablespoon at a time, evenly over the surface, mixing lightly with a fork until particles hold together. Shape mixture into two balls, wrap in wax paper, and allow to stand at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes. On a lightly floured surface or pastry cloth, roll out one dough ball into a circle 1/8-inch thick and 1½ inches larger than the pie plate. (If using refrigerated pie crusts, just unroll crusts and proceed as directed.) Carefully fit crust into pie plate. Trim crust edge, leaving a ½-inch overhang. Pour filling into pie shell as directed above. Set aside.
Roll out remaining dough ball into a circle 1/8-inch thick and 1 inch larger in diameter than the top of inverted pie plate. Cover filling of pie and proceed as directed above.