Meet The Baker: Erin Benton, Knead Donuts

Erin Benton started her journey with baking at fifteen years old, working at a local bakery before school. This introduction to the world of baking shaped Benton’s future as she continued baking while moving with her family across the country dairy farming. However, Benton returned to Taranaki to raise her family after her first child's birth. 

Motherhood took over a few years. After the birth of her second child, Benton felt the need to reconnect with her creative self. Baking, which had been present since her teenage years, became her outlet. 

“I spent many hours in our kitchen at home trialling and perfecting a sourdough recipe and method. After many failures, I finally had something I was proud of,” Benton shared.

After perfecting her sourdough, Benton noticed a gap in Taranaki Market for artisan bread and baking. Benton began sharing her baking creations in various markets across south Taranaki, sharing a comprehensive range of baking goods, including sourdough, pastries, and doughnuts.  

Benton soon realised that the most popular good in her repertoire was her doughnuts and decided to specialise in her product range only to make them.

From this, Benton created Knead Donuts.

“As demand grew, I changed the business model into a wholesale & market business. I continued with this for one and a half years, supplying multiple retail outlets, markets and bread delivery around our region.” 

Benton decided to take the chance and opened with no sign of popularity for her doughnuts slowing. Her storefront now operates with seven permanent staff and is supported by the community. 

Knead Donuts has a variety of unique flavours with many kiwi spin-offs, including Jelly Tip, and glamorous flavours such as Pink Gin. However, Knead Donuts' most popular doughnut remains the Banoffee.

“With whipped cream, slices of real banana, and house-made caramel tucked inside a fresh doughnut rolled in sugar and topped with chocolate shards. It's a delicious fresh combo we have been doing for years and always seems to be a crowd favourite.”

Benton described the doughnut space as an exciting area to work within due to the many collaborations and the drive to innovate delicious yet boundary-pushing doughnut fillings. Benton hopes to begin catering for the future, which her business could only do now. 

With a three-day workweek business model, Benton is proud of her team and their products and can give back to her community through funding initiatives and to her team by promoting a work-life balance. 

“By operating three days a week, we have a business model that truly supports whanau and their goals of work/life balance. I'm proud of this incredible team, this kaupapa and our product.”