Confession! This is the first cherry pie I've ever made, and the recipe I found from an old cookbook didn't have any of the spices or extracts I used. So I "played" with my food, yes, that's a good thing, hehe! It turned out so good that even I liked it...and I don't usually like cherry pie. Go figure!
Place cherries in large saucepan and place over heat. Cover. After the cherries lose considerable juice, which may take a few minutes, remove from heat.
In a small bowl, mix the sugar and cornstarch together. Pour this mixture into the hot cherries and mix well. Add the extracts and spices, if desired, and mix. Return the mixture to the stove and cook over low heat until thickened, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and let cool. If the filling is too thick, add a little water, too thin, add a little more flour. Let cool while you prepare the crust.
Crust: Combine flour, shortening and salt; cut with a pastry cutter or fork until it looks like coarse meal. Then add water (start with 3 Tbsp.) then if it's still dry add more, 1 Tbsp. at a time. Divide in half, this makes 2, 9" bottom crusts, or a top & bottom. Roll out on floured surface, using enough flour so the dough won't stick.
Line a 9" pie plate with crust. Turn cooled cherry mixture evenly onto the bottom crust, and dot with butter. Cover with top crust and make slits for the steam to escape (or make a lattice top); seal the edges and flute. Optional for topping: Brush top with milk, half and half or cream and sprinkle sugar for a pretty, glistening top.
Bake for 12-14 minutes until top starts to brown. If the top and edges are getting too brown, cover loosely with aluminum foil to prevent burning. Lower oven to 375' F. and bake another 45-60 minutes until top is golden brown and juices start to flow through the slits.
Remove from oven and let cool completely. In fact, it's best to wait at least 6 hours before cutting into it, so the juices will thicken more.