1) Combine the starter ingredients in a medium-sized mixing bowl, cover, and allow them to rest overnight (8 to 12 hours at room temperature).
2) Combine the starter with the remainder of the dough ingredients (except the fruit), and mix and knead them togetherby hand, mixer or bread machinetill you've made a soft, sticky dough.
3) Knead in the ginger and apricots.
4) Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until it's puffy (though not necessarily doubled in bulk).
5) Gently deflate the dough, and shape it into a ball.
6) Place it in a panettone pan or other straight-sided, tall 1 1/2- to 2-quart pan.
7) Cover the pan and let the dough rise till it's just crested over the rim of the pan, about 1 hour. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 375°F.
8) Bake the bread for 15 minutes; reduce the oven heat to 350°F and bake for an additional 35 minutes, tenting with aluminum foil if the crust appears to be browning too quickly.
9) Remove the panettone from the oven and cool completely. Dust with confectioners' sugar, if desired.