Combine yeast and water in a medium size mixing bowl. Stir until the yeast is fully dissolved. Add flour and stir until thoroughly mixed.
Cover with a cloth and let stand for exactly 30 minutes.
Make the dough.
Combine water, honey, and yeast in the bowl of a heavy duty stand mixer. Stir until the yeast is fully dissolved. Add shortening, flour, salt and the starter.
Mix on low speed until the dough is fully developed. To determine whether it is fully developed, start testing after the dough comes together and leaves the sides of the bowl. To test, stop the mixer, and take a small piece of dough and stretch it slowly with the thumb and fingers of each hand. If the dough tears easily, mix it for a few more minutes, and test again. It's fully developed when the dough forms a translucent "window" when stretched.
Divide the dough into 2 pieces. Roll each into a smooth ball. Place on a pastry mat or on waxed paper (or in a proofing basket) and cover with a warm, damp cloth. Let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes exactly.
Preheat oven to 400°F now (so it will be thoroughly hot when time to bake).
Form the dough into loaves, place into loaf pans, if using them. Cover with a warm, damp cloth, and let rise for 30 minutes at room temperature (or in a slightly warmer spot, like the top of the oven).
Make three 1/2" scores on the top of each loaf with a sharp knife. Spray with water, and bake for 30-40 minutes, or until the crusts are deep golden brown and a thermometer inserted into the center registers 190-200°F If not using loaf pans, you can place the loaf directly on a hot baking stone.
Remove the bread from the oven and remove from the loaf pans (if using). Cool 30 minutes before slicing.
Store in a paper bag or in a bread box. You can freeze one baked loaf, allow to thaw for a few hours, and reheat in the oven.