The Palace Diner first went into service in the town of Biddeford, Maine, in 1927 and has been serving breakfast and lunch ever since.
This tiny restaurant (it has just 15 seats!) is an example of a “dining car” diner. Dining cars were small restaurants built to look like train cars. They became hugely popular in the 1920s and 1930s.
When co-owners Chad Conley and Greg Mitchell took over the Palace Diner in 2014, the diner became known for its breakfast menu, especially the flapjacks. “There are a few things that make the recipe unique,” Chef Conley told us. “One is the addition of lemon zest for flavour and aroma. Another is the addition of lemon juice, which adds to that flavour and aroma, but, more importantly, the acidity reacts with the baking soda to create extra lift. That helps to make them super fluffy.”
Palace Diner Lemon-Buttermilk Flapjacks
1 1/3 cups (6 2/3 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/3 cups (10 2/3 ounces) buttermilk
1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk
1/2 to 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest plus 4 teaspoons juice, zested and squeezed from 1 lemon
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 teaspoon vegetable oil
- In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
- In a medium bowl, whisk buttermilk, egg and egg yolk, and lemon zest and juice until combined. Add melted butter and whisk until well combined.
- Add buttermilk mixture to flour mixture. Use a rubber spatula to stir gently until just combined (batter should remain lumpy — do not overmix). Let batter sit for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, add oil to a large stovetop griddle or electric griddle. Use a paper towel to spread oil into a thin, even coating over surface of griddle. For a stovetop griddle, place it over 2 burners and heat over low heat for at least 5 minutes. For an electric griddle, heat to 350 degrees.
- When batter is ready, if using stovetop griddle, increase heat to medium and heat for 1 more minute.
- Use a 1/3-cup dry measuring cup to scoop 1/3 cup of batter onto griddle. Use a rubber spatula to scrape batter from the cup and spread into a 5-inch circle. Repeat three more times, leaving space between the mounds of batter.
- Cook until edges the are set and the first side is deep golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Use a spatula to flip flapjacks and cook until the second side is golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. (If you’re using a stovetop griddle, set over two burners on your stove; one side of your griddle may cook faster than the other.)
- Use a spatula to transfer pancakes to plates. Repeat portioning and cooking with remaining batter. Serve.
- If you don’t have a griddle, you can cook these flapjacks in a 12-inch nonstick skillet instead. Cook them in batches over medium heat, two at a time for medium-size flapjacks or one at a time for large-size flapjacks.
- If you love lemon, use the full 1 teaspoon of lemon zest.
- If you want to serve these flapjacks all at once (rather than as they come off the griddle), first heat your oven to 200 degrees — just warm enough to keep the flapjacks hot but not so hot that they dry out. As you make the flapjacks, place them on a cooling rack set in a rimmed baking sheet. Then place the baking sheet in the warm oven. The flapjacks can stay in the oven for 15 minutes — long enough for you to cook the remaining batter.