• 1 cup firmly packed, dried apricots, cut into small pieces
• 1½ cups water
• 1/4 cup apricot or peach brandy
• 1/4 cup dry white wine
• 1 cup sugar
• 1 cinnamon stick
Put the apricot pieces in a mixing bowl, bring the water to a boil, and pour over the apricots. Add the brandy and wine, cover with plastic wrap, and leave in the refrigerator to soak for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour or for as long as overnight.
Transfer the apricots and their soaking liquid to a nonreactive saucepan. Add the sugar and the cinnamon stick and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture has a thick, jamlike consistency, about 45 minutes to an hour. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
Transfer the mixture to a bowl or storage container, remove and discard the cinnamon stick, cover, and refrigerate.
Makes 12 rolls
For the dough:
• 2½ teaspoons (1 package) active dry yeast
• 1 cup milk, heated to lukewarm (80 degrees F. to 90 degrees F.)
• 1/3 cup sugar
• 4 cups bread flour or all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon kosher salt
• 3 large eggs
• 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
For the topping:
• 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
• 1/2 cup light brown sugar
• 2 tablespoons honey
• 1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
• 1½ cups pecan halves
For the filling:
• 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
• 1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
• 2 tablespoons milk, at room temperature for brushing before baking
Combine the milk and the yeast in the bowl of a stand mixer and stir to dissolve. Add the sugar and stir together until the sugar is dissolved. Add 2 cups of the flour and mix together using the paddle attachment of your mixer (or with a wooden spoon in a bowl). When the mixture is smooth, cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and allow to stand for 1 hour.
Add the eggs to the sponge, one at a time, and beat with the paddle attachment until incorporated, scraping down the sides after each addition. Add the remaining flour and salt. Change to the dough hook and knead at low speed for 1 minute, then at medium speed for 5 minutes, or until the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl.
With the mixer at medium speed, add the room-temperature butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, and continue to knead until each addition is incorporated. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few times by hand. The dough should be smooth and elastic. Shape into a ball. Rinse and oil your bowl, return the dough to it, rounded side down first, then rounded side up. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to rise for 1½ hours, until doubled.
When the dough ball has doubled in size, use your fist to punch it down in the bowl. Cover again and set in a warm place to rest for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, make the topping.