Plumping dried fruits by soaking them in a liquid will make them tender and juicy, eliminating any possibility of the undesirable leathery texture they can sometimes have in finished baked goods. Plumping dried fruits also serves to keep the amount of liquid in the formula balanced, as dried fruits can absorb moisture from the dough or batter if they are not first plumped.
The liquid used for plumping the fruit can add its own flavor. Fruit can be plumped in liquor such as brandy or rum, or in fruit juice or apple cider. Choose a liquid that complements the other flavors in the recipe.
To plump fruit, place it in a bowl, add enough liquid to cover, and allow it to stand until rehydrated and softened. Soaking time will depend on the fruit, its age, and the particular drying process used. However, overnight is usually sufficient.
For quicker soaking, combine the dried fruit and liquid in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from the heat and let the fruit stand in the liquid, covered, until plumped. When dried fruit is added to a formula, whether plumped or not, it is often first tossed in a small amount of flour, which will help to prevent the fruit from sinking to the bottom of the pan during baking.
Extra liquid can be strained from the soaked fruit and used to soak cakes, sweeten cocktails, or drizzled over ice cream.