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1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 10-inch springform pan with 1 tablespoon of the softened butter. Sprinkle sides of pan with 1/3 cup of the panko to coat; set aside. Melt the remaining 1 tablespoon softened butter. Stir the remaining 1/3 cup panko and 1 teaspoon of the thyme into melted butter; set aside.
2. Cook pasta 2 minutes less than directed by package directions; drain. Return pasta to pan; set aside.
3. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan cook apples and onion in the 3 tablespoons butter over medium heat for 5 to 8 minutes or until tender. Add flour, salt, and pepper to saucepan. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Stir in milk and apple cider. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Reduce heat to low. Add cheeses and the remaining 2 teaspoons thyme; stir until cheese melts.
4. Add sauce mixture to pasta; stir to combine. Spoon pasta mixture into prepared pan. Sprinkle with reserved panko mixture.
5. Bake, uncovered, about 40 minutes or until edges are bubbly. Let stand on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Remove sides of pan. Using a serrated knife, cut pie into eight wedges. If desired, top with fresh thyme sprigs.