This is a great yummy cake for strawberry lovers. It has all of the elements of a trifle but it looks more elegant and tailored. This cake is very soft and the cut pieces might look a little messy but will taste incredible!
To make the pastry cream, combine half and half with milk, 6 tablespoons of sugar, and the salt in a large heavy saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat, whisking frequently.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together eggs, egg yolk, cornstarch, and the remaining 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar until pale yellow and smooth, about 1 minute.
When half and half mixture is simmering, remove from heat and gradually whisk it into the egg mixture, going slowly and whisking constantly so as not to curdle the eggs. Return the mixture to the pan and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, just until a few bubbles break through the surface and the mixture has thickened and is shiny, about 1 to 2 minutes.
Remove from the heat and whisk in the butter, one piece at a time, and then the vanilla extract. Pour through a strainer into a bowl and wrap well with plastic wrap. Refrigerate well until chilled, at least 3 hours and up to 2 days.
To assemble the cake, line the inside of a springform pan with about 20 ladyfingers, standing them up side by side, rounded side out. Arrange 14 ladyfingers on the bottom of the pan to cover it.
Whip the cream, confectioner's sugar, and vanilla extract together in a large bowl with an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Reserve 2 cups of the whipped cream, transferring it to a smaller bowl. Gently fold the chilled pastry cream into the remaining whipped cream.
Spread half the pastry cream mixture over the ladyfingers and smooth with a spatula. Arrange half the strawberries in a single layer over the pastry cream mixture. Arrange 14 ladyfingers over the strawberries. Smooth the remaining pastry cream over the ladyfingers. Arrange the remaining strawberries over the cream. Top with the remaining 14 ladyfingers.
Smooth the reserved whipped cream over the last layer of lady fingers. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least 3 hours and up to 1 day.
Just before serving, release the sides of the springform pan from the cake.