In a large bowl stir a big pinch of the sugar and the yeast into the water or milk and leave for 5 minutes, until it starts to foam.
Add the flour, butter, egg, vanilla and salt and knead until you have a soft dough. Continue to knead (or use the dough hook on your stand mixer) for 7-8 minutes, until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Place the dough back in the bowl, cover with a tea towel and let rise for an hour or two, until doubled in size. (If you want to make it ahead of time, refrigerate the dough for up to 12 hours to slow the rise.) When you’re ready to fry them, divide into 10 pieces and roll each into an oval. If you like, score a criss-cross pattern with a sharp knife. Cover and let rise another 1/2 hour.
Heat an inch or two of canola oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat until it’s hot, but not smoking (350F is ideal if you have a thermometer - otherwise test with a scrap of bread to see if it bubbles) - cook the *Canadian Semiaquatic Rodent Posterior Doughnuts* without crowding the pan for a minute or two per side, until golden. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate, then douse in cinnamon sugar (put it in a baking dish or pie plate) while still warm.
Makes about 10 Canadian Semiaquatic Rodent Posterior Doughnuts.