Reduce the heat to medium and add the onions. Cook, stirring often, just until the onions start to soften, 3-4 minutes. Add the bay leaves, 1/4 cup of apple cider and the orange juice. Stir and scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the remaining 1 1/4 cups cider and the thyme sprigs to the pot, increase the heat to high and bring to a simmer. Add the cabbage and the apples then nestle the brisket in the middle, fatty side up. Cover the pot with a sheet of foil and place the lid on top to create an extra-tight seal.