2) Divide the dough in half, pat into disks, wrap in cling film and refrigerate until firm, at least 4 hours and up to overnight.
3) Generously flour a clean work surface (Tip: for a nice, even layer of flour, sift flour over work station). Roll the chilled dough to about 0.5cm thick. Cut into the desired shape using a biscuit cutter, working quickly enough that the dough stays chilled. (If dough becomes warm and soft, put it in refrigerator on a lined baking sheet to chill, about 30 minutes.)
4) Transfer the cut biscuits to un-greased baking sheets, leaving about 2.5cm between each one. Lightly dust off excess flour with a dry pastry brush. Refrigerate the formed biscuits for at least 30 minutes. (Excess dough can be gathered together, pressed into a disk, chilled and rerolled.)
5) Preheat the oven to 170C/Gas 3. Bake the biscuits, until the bottoms and sides are barely golden, about 12 to 15 minutes depending on shape. Cool on the baking sheets until firm enough to transfer to a rack to cool. Decorate as desired and serve. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.
For the cake:
1) Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4. Butter and line the bottom of 20 by 35cm cake tin with greaseproof paper, overlapping on 2 sides to create flaps.
2) Put chopped the chocolate in a bowl. Heat cola to a simmer over low heat and pour over chocolate. Allow to stand for 5 minutes; stir until smooth. Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a medium bowl.
3) In another large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed until slightly thickened and pale, about 3 minutes. Gradually add the oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to the eggs. Beat on low until combined well, but not aerated. Add the flour mixture and continue to beat until just combined (stir lightly with a rubber spatula to remove any lumps of flour).
4) Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake until the top of the cake springs back lightly when touched, and a tester inserted in the centre comes out clean, about 40 minutes.
5) Cool the cake completely in the tin on a rack. Run a knife around edge and invert the cake onto the rack. Carefully remove the greaseproof paper and cool completely. (The cake may be made in advance, tightly wrapped and kept at room temperature for up to 2 days.)
For the icing:
1) Bring a few inches of water to the boil in a saucepan that can hold the bowl of a standing mixer above the water. Whisk the sugar, egg whites, lemon juice or cream of tartar and salt in the bowl by hand. Set the bowl above the boiling water and continue whisking until the mixture is hot to the touch and the sugar dissolves, about 1 to 2 minutes.
2) Transfer the bowl to a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat the whites at medium-high speed until they almost hold a stiff peak and are fully cooled, about 10 minutes. Beat in the butter, a little at a time, until the icing is smooth and spreadable. (If the icing separates, just keep beating and it will come back together.)
To decorate the cake,
1) Divide the icing in half and set aside a couple of tbsp of white icing for the pitch lines. Blend a few drops of green food colouring into one portion so it is the same colour as a football pitch. Beat the cocoa powder and melted chocolate into remaining icing.
2) Cover sides of the cake with chocolate icing. (Save some chocolate icing to decorate the football biscuits, if desired.)
3) Transfer the green icing to a pastry bag fitted with a small tip, and cover the top of the cake, moving back and forth in small motions to create the pitch. Clean the bag and tip thoroughly, fill with white icing and add pitch lines as desired.
4) Press the football-themed biscuits into the top or sides of the cake, as desired, and finish with plastic goal posts. Serve or set aside at room temperature for up to 2 hours before serving.
Cook's Note: If cake is refrigerated, bring to room temperature 1 hour before serving.
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