I said real Danishes were good, I didn’t say they were cheap. Good Euro butter, if you can locate the truly outstanding stuff, can run you in excess of ten dollars a pound. Is it worth it? Absolutely, for just like any pastry made from a layered (or “laminated”) dough, butter is where the lion’s share of the flavor comes from. Any topping, like cheese or jam, is really window dressing. As I’ve said before (and I seem to be repeating myself quite a bit lately) layered doughs are nothing more than butter delivery systems.
Danishes made with butter that good are quite simply a revelation. Why? Because no retail baker can afford to use butter of the quality you can find in a specialty store. OK yes, there may be a few bakers still left in Copenhagen who make their pastries the good old-fashioned way, but having been there I can tell you that not only are most Danishes not made with layered doughs these days, a lot of them don’t even contain real butter. It’s just like the French and their croissants — a surprising number of them are made from margarine now.
What can I say but that’s the reality of the modern retail food industry. Margins are razor thin, even on the Continent where everything’s supposed to be “authentic”. However it is precisely those financial constraints that gives all us home bakers a built-in advantage whenever we set out to roll our own pastry.