Latest Spec Project: Recoup

This is the result of a rainy Saturday afternoon. I wanted to do a packaging project and this popped into my head as I was just returning from the store picking up some lunch fixings. Once I got to the point where I was somewhat happy with the type and form for the packaging, I thought I’d do a couple ads as well.

The Recoup Packaging
The Recoup Packaging

 

Recoup Ad3
Recoup Ad3

 

Recoup Ad: Susan Kommen
Recoup Ad: Susan Kommen

 

Recoup Ad2: Susan Kommen
Recoup Ad2: Susan Kommen

Jelly Doughnuts!

jelly-doughnuts

Yeast doughnuts are to cake doughnuts what brown butter is to fresh, what caramel is to plain sugar, what homemade vanilla extract is to anything you can buy in a bottle.
Today is the day to make that right.

Yield: 16 2-inch doughnuts
Prep time: 1 hour 45 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes

2 1/2 teaspoons (1 7-gram or 1/4-ounce packet) active dry yeast
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
3/4 cup (180 ml) lukewarm (not hot) milk
2 large egg yolks
Few gratings of orange or lemon zest, 1 teaspoon vanilla or 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons (1 ounce or 30 grams) butter softened
2 1/4 cups (280 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon coarse or kosher salt
Vegetable oil for deep-frying, and coating bowl
1/2 to 2/3 cup jam or preserves of your choice
Powdered sugar

Make the dough: In the bottom of a large mixing bowl, combine the yeast, sugar and milk. Let stand for 5 minutes; it should become a little foamy. Whisk in yolks, any zest or extracts you’d like to use, then butter. Don’t worry if the butter doesn’t fully combine.

By hand: Add half of flour and stir with a spoon until combined. Add second half of flour and salt and stir as best as you can with a spoon, then use your hands to knead the dough until it forms a smooth, elastic round, about 5 minutes. Try, if you can, to resist adding extra flour, even if it’s sticky. Extra flour always makes for tougher/dryer doughnuts and breads. Sticky hands and counters are always washable!

With a stand mixer: Add half the flour and let the dough hook mix it in slowly, on a low speed. Add second half of flour and salt and let the dough hook bring it together into a rough dough. Run machine for 3 to 4 minutes, letting it knead the dough into a smooth, cohesive mass.

Both methods: If the dough is already in the bowl, remove it just long enough to lightly oil the bowl. Return dough to bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature for 1 hour, or in the fridge overnight.

On a lightly floured counter, roll dough to a 1/2-inch thickness. Cut into 2-inch rounds; no need to re-roll scraps unless you wish; I like to keep the odd shapes for getting the hang of frying before cooking the final doughnuts. Or, if you’re vehemently against scraps and re-rolling, you can make small square doughnuts, which are surprisingly cute. Let cut dough rise for another 30 minutes, loosely covered with a towel.

Fry the doughnuts: Heat 2 inches of oil to 350°F (175°C) in a cast-iron frying pan (I like using one because it so delightfully re-seasons them) or heavy pot. Use your dough scraps to practice and get an idea of how quickly the doughnuts will cook. Then add about 4 doughnuts at a time to the oil, cooking on the first side until golden brown underneath, about 1 to 2 minutes. Flip doughnuts and cook on the other side, until it, too, is golden brown underneath, about another minute. Drain doughnuts, then spread them on a paper towel-lined plate to absorb extra oil. Repeat with remaining doughnuts.

Fill with jelly: When doughnuts are cool enough to handle, place jelly or jam in a piping bag with a round tip with a 1/4- to 1/2-inch opening. You can fill doughnuts from the tops or sides; I did half with each. Press the tip of the jam bag halfway into the doughnut, and squeeze in the jam until it dollops out a little from the hole. Repeat with remaining doughnuts.

Finish doughnuts: Either generously shower doughnuts with powdered sugar on either side, shaken from a fine-mesh strainer, or roll the doughnuts gently in a bowl of powdered sugar.

Eat at once. Don’t forget to share!
These are best on the first day.

Typography in 10 minutes

This is a bold claim, but I stand behind it:
If you learn and follow these five ty­pog­ra­phy rules, you will be a bet­ter ty­pog­ra­pher than 95% of pro­fes­sional writ­ers and 70% of pro­fes­sional de­sign­ers.

Ready? Go.

  1. The ty­po­graphic qual­ity of your doc­u­ment is de­ter­mined largely by how the body text looks. Why? Be­cause there’s more body text than any­thing else. So start every project by mak­ing the body text look good, then worry about the rest.In turn, the ap­pear­ance of the body text is de­ter­mined pri­mar­ily by these four ty­po­graphic choices:
  2. Point size is the size of the let­ters. In print, the most com­fort­able range for body text is 10–12 point. On the web, the range is 15–25 pix­els. Not every font ap­pears equally large at a given point size, so be pre­pared to ad­just as necessary.
  3. Line spac­ing is the ver­ti­cal dis­tance be­tween lines. It should be 120–145% of the point size. In word proces­sors, use the “Ex­act” line-spac­ing op­tion to achieve this. The de­fault sin­gle-line op­tion is too tight; the 1½-line option is too loose. In CSS, use line-height.
  4. Line length is the hor­i­zon­tal width of the text block. Line length should be an av­er­age of 45–90 char­ac­ters per line (use your word-count func­tion) or 2–3 low­er­case al­pha­bets, like so:abcde­fghijklmnopqrstu­vwxyz­abcde­fghijklmnopqrstu­vwxyz­abcdIn a printed doc­u­ment, this usu­ally means page mar­gins larger than the tra­di­tional one inch. On a web page, it usu­ally means not al­low­ing the text to flow to the edges of the browserwindow.
  5. And fi­nally, font choice. The fastest, eas­i­est, and most vis­i­ble im­prove­ment you can make to your ty­pog­ra­phy is to ig­nore the fonts that came free with your com­puter (known as sys­tem fonts) and buy a pro­fes­sional font (like my fonts eq­uity and con­course, or oth­ers found in font rec­om­men­da­tions). A pro­fes­sional font gives you the ben­e­fit of a pro­fes­sional de­signer’s skills with­out hav­ing to hire one.If that’s im­pos­si­ble, you can still make good ty­pog­ra­phy with sys­tem fonts. But choose wisely. And never choose times new ro­man or Ar­ial, as those fonts are fa­vored only by the ap­a­thetic and sloppy. Not by ty­pog­ra­phers. Not by you.That’s it. As you put these five rules to work, you’ll no­tice your doc­u­ments start­ing to look more like pro­fes­sion­ally pub­lished material.

The Urban Dictionary of Design Slang

Joining the ranks of any profession is the same as committing yourself to learning an entirely new language, most of which is frankly gibberish. (TPS reports, anyone?) Design is no exception. So we asked some of our friends at design firms—including Pentagram, Ammunition, Huge, Ziba, Pensole, Google Ventures, Sagmeister & Walsh, and more—to define their favorite examples of design slang and jargon. The answers we received range from serious to tongue-in-cheek, but if you’ve ever been puzzled by a designer telling you he needed to “ideate a more approachable FTUX” or “add more value to that horsey megamenu,” this resource should help you translate.   Continue reading “The Urban Dictionary of Design Slang”