Butter the bottom and sides of a 9 - inch springform pan that is at least 2-1/2 inches deep. If using a smaller pan, you my have leftover batter that you can bake in ramekins or a another dish. Wrap the bottom of the pan in 2 layers of aluminum foil.
Combine the graham cracker crumbs , sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Add the melted butter and stir until all crumbs are moistened. The mixture will be crumbly. Press this mixture into the bottom and about 2 inches up the sides of the pan.
Set the pan in the freezer while you preheat the oven to 350 F.
When the oven is preheated, place the springform pan on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 10 minutes. When done, cool on a rack while you make the filling.
For the filling:
In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, add the cream cheese. Beat at medium speed for 5 minutes, until the cream cheese is fluffy. With the mixer on, add the sugar and salt , continue to beat another 4 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating an additional 1 minute after each egg. Use a spatula to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl to make sure that all of the cream cheese has been incorporated. Add the sour cream and vanilla with the mixer on low until well blended.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. The batter will be light and airy. Fill the pan to the top.
Create a Waterbath:
Place the filled springform pan into the larger baking or roasting pan, make sure there is enough room on the sides to add water. Place the pan in the center rack of the oven. Fill the larger pan with boiling water until it comes half way up the side of the springform pan.
Bake the cheesecake for 1-1/2 hours. The cake will be golden and may have cracks.
Leave the cheesecake in the oven. Turn off the oven and open the oven door about 12 inches. Prop open with a large wooden spoon or stick if needed. Leave open and allow the cheesecake to sit in the waterbath for another hour.
Carefully remove the pan from the oven, and lift the springform pan out of the waterbath with oven mitts as water may still be hot. Let the cheescake cool on a rack until room temperature. Wrap and put in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.
At least an hour before serving, take the cheesecake out of the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature.
Optional: Mix the cherries with the almond extract and set aside. Or use your own favorite topping.
Put the cheesecake on a serving plate and remove the outer ring of the springform pan carefully.
Cover with the fruit filling and enjoy!