babka zana
Image design by Mollie Suss

This French Bakery Is Making Babka Cool Again

Babka Zana amassed a cult following in Paris for traditional Jewish goodies and zany flavor combinations.

Boasting three locations in Paris, a cookbook (sadly, currently only available in French), and a line spilling out the door, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to call Babka Zana a bit of a phenomenon. This New York- and Tel Aviv- inspired bakery has been operating since January of 2020, and while their menu is chock-full of traditional Levantine treats such as spinach bourekas and za’atar-dusted pita bread, the real star is —  you guessed it —  their babka. Or, really, their babka creations. 

What separates Babka Zana from the pack of brilliant bakeries throughout Paris is their zany list of rotating flavors. Their hand-held babka rolls come in bold, aesthetically pleasing varieties such as halvah citron, lemon curd and pistachio. They even offer limited-edition seasonal flavors that are announced monthly on their Instagram account, which is closely followed by over 70,000 people — from thyme-infused apricot jam to pumpkin praline.

The response to their riffs on the traditional straight-laced chocolate and cinnamon delicacy can be seen in their comment section, which is regularly bursting with heart-eye emojis and people tagging their friends who have, presumably, also been waiting for the next Zana drop. This type of engagement seems to be a mainstay of their delectable business, as even though they’ve been shouted out in Vogue and The New York Times, their hype comes from social media, which also includes the droves of people making TikTok video content to show off the French goodies. 

While this is par for the course for the must-see, must-try spots of the new, digital culinary world, Babka Zana’s origin story also anchors the business to bakers that came before them. Married founders Sarah Amouyal and Emmanuel Mura took inspiration from Mura’s mother, cookbook author Andrée Zana Murat, and named their establishment “Zana” in order to honor the generations of Jewish and Levantine women that passed on the recipes that their bakery is experimenting upon. 

To the founders, these mothers and grandmothers shaped their culinary sensibilities growing up and paved the way for Babka Zana to exist, and this clear appreciation and acknowledgment of the long history that babka, bourekas and challah come from can be seen in the quality of not only their trendy flavors, but the more humble Jewish fare, such as the challah loaves they offer on Friday night. 

With a peer through the glass bake shop windows, it’s clear that Babka Zana not only wants to create sweets for a rapid, metropolitan world, but also a community of people who are equally as excited about the rich history and promising future of Jewish food. Babka Zana proves that even the most beloved of dishes can always use an upgrade, and this type of experimentation can come in many forms —  and from places you wouldn’t expect. 

So, whether you’re an Insta-foodie or a cinnamon babka purist, this bakery has an authentic appeal with the high-quality product to match. Keep those notifications on, we’re waiting to see what flavor they come up with next.

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